Triune, holy, apostolic: divine services in the month of June

The post-Pentecost season is here. This year, it brings us a new chapter in the coronavirus diary: in many countries, divine services are becoming possible again in the local congregations, at least gradually. Following is an overview of the Divine Service Guide for the month of June.

Perhaps not everywhere, but in many countries, it is once again becoming possible to celebrate divine services in our local church buildings. This also brings with it the opportunity to celebrate Holy Communion. For several weeks, Christians around the world have been waiting for this moment—and now it is finally within reach. The Priests will once again begin making use of their sermon outlines, which are found in the New Apostolic Church’s Divine Service Guide. On the basis of a Bible passage, this document identifies the core message, provides an explanation, and supplies some context for the sermon, and is intended to aid ministers as they prepare to conduct sermons.

God is triune

The Sunday following Pentecost is traditionally the day on which Christians commemorate the Trinity of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct divine persons, but are always interrelated and one. They are worshipped and glorified together. The statement: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13: 13) is not only the closing liturgical statement in New Apostolic divine services, but also one of the most important references to the doctrine of the Trinity of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of one substance and will.

God is holy

The two Sundays following thereafter address two special aspects of the theme complex entitled “The work of God”, and focus on the themes of holiness and apostolicity, respectively. The divine service on 14 June is to bring to expression that the church of Christ and its members are to be distinguished by the characteristic of holiness A fundamental hallmark of the church of Christ is its holiness, which has its source in the triune God alone, and not in the human beings that comprise it. The sinfulness of the individual cannot impair the holiness of the church. Why is the church holy? Because it serves for salvation and because it contains the means to lead human beings to salvation in the fellowship of God.

The church is apostolic

The divine service on the third Sunday in June explores the apostolicity of both content and person inherent in—and also to be perceived within—the church of Christ. Section 2.4.3 of the New Apostolic Catechism explains this as follows: “The church is ‘apostolic’: the apostolicity of the church has a content-related aspect and a person-related aspect. First of all, the church is apostolic because the gospel of the death, resurrection, and return of Christ—as preached by the early Apostles—is proclaimed within it. On the other hand, the church is apostolic because the apostolic ministry is historically manifest in the Apostles who work within the church in the present.”

At the same time, the Apostles are servants for our joy. They see to it that the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached in the proper manner and that salvation is accessible to all human beings.

The ultimate goal is salvation

The last divine service of June serves to prepare the way for the divine service for the departed. God provides the fullness of everything necessary for salvation to both the living and the dead: He will remedy all deficiencies. Although imperfect human beings are active in the work of God, this will not prevent salvation from being imparted in word and sacrament. When we are in His kingdom, all shortcomings will be resolved once and for all.

Online divine services to continue: we would like to point out that video divine services will continue until further notice. Not all members will have the opportunity to celebrate divine services in the familiar setting of their home congregation.

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Peter Johanning