Living Water


Video of the Divine Service here.

Bulletin here.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

On the last and great day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me; and let the believing one come to Me and drink. Because, as the Scripture says, ‘Out of His belly rivers of living water will flow.’” Out of whose belly? Out of the believer’s? No. Because Jesus, John tells us, was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who was about to be given to the believers, but He had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified. The believers are the ones who will be given the Holy Spirit. The believers are the ones who come to Jesus and drink. They are the thirsty ones, whose thirst will be satisfied.

How do I know—in spite of our English translations—that Jesus is speaking of Himself when He says that rivers of living water will flow from His belly? Because there is another great Sabbath day coming in the Gospel of John. Prior to that great, important, significant day—like this great, important, significant day of the feast—the leaders of the Jews did not want crucified men hanging on their crosses and dying. So they asked Pilate to get rid of the bodies. The soldiers, in order to hasten death, break the legs of the one and then they break the legs of the other. But when they come to Jesus, they see that He is already dead. So they don’t break His legs; as the Scriptures say, Not one of His bones will be broken. Instead, a soldier pierces His side with a spear and—John tells us—immediately, blood and water flowed forth. He says, I saw it, and I bear witness to it, so that you may believe. So that you may believe, and come to Him and drink. From His side—from His belly—flow rivers of living water.

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Bishop and Christian*, June 2017

164 years ago next month, the very first president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, C.F.W. Walther, wrote this in the official publication of the Synod, Der Lutheraner:

Whenever the divine service once again follows the old Evangelical-Lutheran agendas (or church books), it seems that many raise a great cry that it is “Roman Catholic”: “Roman Catholic” when the pastor chants “The Lord be with you” and the congregation responds by chanting “and with thy spirit”; “Roman Catholic” when the pastor chants the collect and the blessing and the people respond with a chanted “Amen.”

Even the simplest Christian can respond to this outcry: “Prove to me that this chanting is contrary to the word of God, then I too will call it ‘Roman Catholic’ and have nothing more to do with it. However, you cannot prove this to me.”

If you insist upon calling Romish every element in the divine service that has been used by the Roman Catholic Church, it must follow that the reading of the Epistle and Gospel is also Romish. Indeed, it is mischief to sing or preach in church, for the Roman Church has done this also.

Those who cry out should remember that the Roman Catholic Church possesses every beautiful song of the old orthodox church. The chants and antiphons and responses were brought into the church long before the false teachings of Rome crept in. This Christian Church since the beginning, even in the Old Testament, has derived great joy from chanting…For more than 1700 years orthodox Christians have participated joyfully in the divine service. Should we, today, carry on by saying that such joyful participation is Roman Catholic? God forbid!

Therefore, as we continue to hold and to restore our wonderful divine services in places where they have been forgotten, let us boldly confess that our worship forms do not unite us with the modern sects or with the Church of Rome; rather, they join us to the one, holy Christian church that is as old as the world and is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. (This is translated from Der Lutheraner, July 19, 1853, page 163.)

Pr. Winterstein

*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”