The first is from Martin Thornton, quoting Sergius Bulgakov:
During the service of Christmas there is not merely the memory of the birth of Christ, but truly Christ is born in a mysterious manner, just as at Easter he is resurrected. … The life of the Church, in these services, makes actual for us the mystery of the Incarnation. … [I]t is given to the Church to make living these sacred memories so that we should be their new witnesses and participate in them. (Christian Proficiency, p.69)The second is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classic book, "Life Together" - even though I've read through the book twice, the importance of this passage did not hit me until now:
Consecutive reading of biblical books forces everyone who wants to hear to put himself, or to allow himself to be found, where God has acted once and for all for the salvation of men. We become part of what once took place for our salvation. Forgetting and losing ourselves, we, too, pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordan into the promised land. With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance experience again God’s help and faithfulness. All this is not mere reverie but holy, godly reality. We are torn out of our own existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth. There God dealt with us, and there he still deals with us, our needs and our sins, in judgment and grace. It is not that God is the spectator and sharer of our present life, howsoever important that is; but rather that we are the reverent listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story, the history of the Christ on earth. And only in so far as we are there, is God with us today also. (Life Together, p.38)
In the Lutheran tradition, we commonly refer to the pastoral office as the office of "Word and Sacrament." Given the sacramental quality of the Word, I'll have to rethink how I describe the office of ministry, as that phrase implies a dichotomy where there is none. In any event, viewing the reading of Scripture as a sacramental action, where the reader is engaged in a real encounter with God, gives me a greater impetus to focus on the daily office of prayer and Scripture reading.