Sermon Review: The Mass
So on to our first Sermon Review here at DriscollWatch. Because it is our first Sermon Review I’m going to make it really brief and only talk about a couple of short sentences of Mark Driscoll’s sermon titled, “Jesus the Sabbath Lord.”
Shortly after 43 minutes into this Sermon, Pastor Driscoll (after pointing out that he was raised Catholic) says to the Catholics in attendance, “Very glad to have you. Welcome to Mars Hill, enjoy our mass.”
I’m sorry Mr. Driscoll, but is it really appropriate to call what you do at Mars Hill Mass? It is a nice prayer service, but I certainly don’t think you can call it Mass. Some people think that whenever Catholics get together to pray it’s called Mass, but that isn’t the case at all. The Mass is a special prayer in which we remember Jesus Christ in the very way that he asked us to remember him: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them saying, This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19).’” So even though prayer services are good and singing hymns of praise are good, there is a specific action that Jesus commanded us to do in remembrance of him, and that is Eucharistia, which has been called the Mass over the years.
The early Church bears witness to exactly what constitutes worship on the sabbath. Justin Martyr lived in the second century and wrote around the year 150, which means that he lived in the generation right after the apostles died. In fact, he probably knew some of the men who learned at the feet of the apostles. Thus, he has some insights as to what the apostles taught about how we are to worship that I think every Christian would be smart to pay attention to. If you go to Mars Hill, I would ask you to read this and compare it to the worship that you practice at Mars Hill. Is it the same? Or is it different?
“There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito so be it. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.”
Does that happen at Mars Hill? If it does, then, yes, your pastor can welcome visitors to his Church by saying, “Enjoy our mass.” If this isn’t what Mars Hill does every Sunday, then he cannot pretend that his worship is the worship passed down through the ages, which Christ intended for us. Simply taking “communion” doesn’t suffice.
It is amazing to me, however, that the Catholic Church today does this almost exactly like Justin Martyr advises. Every time I read this my jaw drops a bit. But the Saint goes on:
And this food is called among us Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. (Bold emphasis mine).
Mass is where we unite our entire self, mentally, spiritually, AND bodily, to Jesus Christ and we do this because he gives us this gift of his flesh that St. Justin Martyr says was taught to him by the people who learned at the feet of the apostles. If your Church does not offer this gift, I would invite you to join one that does.