Today we listen to Miroslav Volf on the importance of the Eucharist for going to church.
High view of the ministry of the Word and pronounced free-church sensibilities notwithstanding, I finally caved in. I sought refuge from bad preaching in the celebration of the Eucharist ...
... the choice is not between going to church to hear a sermon or staying at home with a newspaper or book In church one can also receive the sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus Christ (and pray for a good sermon in addition). Some time ago, Emil Brunner suggested that the sacraments are the best antidote to a minister "who lives by his own wisdom rather than from the scriptures. Even the most audacious minister has not dared to lay hands on the sacraments."
... Dissatisfied with ministers who live by their own wisdom, I turned to the Eucharist. Its celebration takes participants back to the night on which the Lord of Glory was betrayed and to the day on which his crucified body was suspended between the heavens and the earth. Its "special blessing" lies in not letting us forget that Christians' lives rest on Christ's body given and his blood spilled and that their calling is to "live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." In the celebration of the Eucharist the church receives itself anew by the power of the Holy Spirit as that which it is and ought to be - the body of Christ given for the salvation of the world. Augustine put it beautifully to his congregation: "So if it's you that are the body of Christ and its members, it's the mystery meaning you that has been placed on the Lord's table; what you receive is the mystery that means you. It is what you are that you reply Amen, and by so replying you express your assent."
The gathering of believers is the place where by the power of the Spirit and through the celebration of the Eucharist we are made into the body of Christ - for our own salvation and for the salvation of the world. And so on any Sunday morning I happily leave my newspaper at home and head for a church whose primary purpose is neither to enlighten nor empower me, but "to proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."
Miroslav Volf, Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Persisting Enemies (Eerdmans, 2010), pp.90-91.