Berthold von Schenk (1895 – 1974) was a gifted parish pastor of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The Presence, originally published in 1945, brought to a wider audience what he had been meditating on and teaching his congregation for years about the meaning of Holy Communion for them and for all Christians.
What von Schenk believed about Holy Communion was thoroughly grounded in the Bible and in the historical Confessions of the Lutheran Church. But it led him toward, not away from, other Christians. Holy Communion was the way that Jesus kept his promise to be with his Church always, even unto the end of the world. “Do this,” he had said, “in remembrance of me.” Holy Communion therefore ought to be celebrated not just occasionally but on every Sunday and feast day of the year.
God did not just become incarnate long ago at Christmas; Holy Communion brings God incarnate to us today. Jesus did not give himself for us only long ago on Calvary; in Holy Communion Christ gives himself to us today. Pastor von Schenk shows how all the events of Christ’s life confessed in the Apostles’ Creed-his birth, his death, his resurrection, his ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit-are all present for us in the Holy Sacrament he gave us.
Paul Robert Sauer is the editor of this new edition. He is today the pastor of the same church that von Schenk served in the Bronx from 1940 – 1961. He found a copy of The Presence at the church. “Some books change your mind,” he told a group in a talk about von Schenk. “This one changed my life.” He has provided an Introduction and many helpful footnotes for modern readers.
Paper, 174 pp, $12.50 + postage
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