We ask, in the Prayer for the Church, that God will give us his grace, "and especially to this congregation here present." Why is this group singled out? It is because a group of Christians gathered in God's house has a special privilege and obligation. It is an outstanding, significant, and joyous occasion when we may hear God's Word. (There are hundreds of millions of the people of Earth who may not.) Yet how lightly we take this supreme privilege! "Oh well, if I don't catch it this week, there'll be other times." So thought the man who discovered, as Jesus tells us, that his soul was required of him the very night of his heedlessness. As we glance around on Sundays, noting extended absences, we see plainly how many of God's people do not realize that God has a word for his people every day of their lives, and for his gathered people every Lord's Day.
What a prideful, self-centered, blasphemous thing it is to say, "Sunday is my day"! Only God may say so. It is called the Lord's Day precisely because it is just that.
If at the Eucharist we hear nothing else we can hear (unless there is
true physical deafness) the Word of God. But there is another kind of
deafness, of a spiritual sort. We pray, therefore, both for the capacity to
hear God's Word, and to receive it: both for the proper working of the tympanum and hammer and anvil within the ear, and for the attention and eager greeting for the Word within our understanding. Our response must be, Amen, let it be so, in me, today. To be able to say this we must have God's enabling power, and so we ask for it.
God speaks to us frequently in a variety of ways, but most surely and
cogently when his Word is set forth in the midst of his gathered people.