Devotion for Thursday, June 18, 2020
1 Corinthians 11:23-29
Collect: Lord Jesus Christ, on the night of Your betrayal, You established the Supper of Your body and blood for us Christians to eat and to drink. Give us faith to trust in the words of Your testament and so rightly receive the fruits of Your suffering and death and through Your merit finally be brought to rejoice in the marriage feast of the Lamb, where You live and reign with the Father and the Spirit forever. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: “What Is This Bread” – (LSB 629)
Today’s Confirmation lesson will be about the Lord’s Supper. Fitting, really, as we all start to get back together again that this topic comes up, and come up it has. Practically every week at the winkels (circuit pastor meetings) we discussed communion and practices and what we would be doing, and what we would not be doing, when celebrating this holy meal. Many people in our churches are concerned that there is too great a chance of getting sick if we celebrate it, so they are leery about even coming to church when it’s offered.
While many of the concerns are valid, proximity to people when lining up for example, it should be noted that certain aspects of the Lord’s Supper should never be brought into question or worried about, and that is the truth about what you are actually receiving.
So, what are we receiving when we partake of the bread and wine in service? As I’ve done for the last couple of topics, I’m going to turn to the hymnal once again to lead or discussion: What Is This Bread – LSB 629
What is this bread? Christ’s body risen from the dead:
This bread we break, this life we take,
Was crushed to pay for our release
O taste and see – the Lord is peace.
First off, the bread we receive is not just plain bread, but the very body of Christ. The same body that died on the cross, and the same body that rose from the dead. How? By God’s almighty power, that’s how. There’s no logical explanation that details how this happens, just that Jesus says it does, and so we accept it by faith. This body that was sacrificed for us on the cross, as Isaiah writes “…Crushed for our iniquities;” (Is. 53:5) is what won for us peace with God. Christ’s broken body was the price required to bring us peace with God. It is that peace that we receive through this meal; the peace with God that comes from our sins being forgiven.
What is this wine? The blood of Jesus shed for mine;
The cup of grace brings His embrace
Of life and love until I sing!
O taste and see – the Lord is King.
Now comes the cup. The wine inside is also the very blood of Christ. Both and, not one or. How? Don’t know – ask God. But St. Paul is rather clear when he writes in the first letter to the Corinthians:
“27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
It looks pretty clear that both bread and body, wine and blood are present, though he is a tad short on the details as to how…though in this case, the details don’t matter, what matters is the truth. They are both there – recognize it and receive it.
The author goes on to remind us that Jesus’ spilled blood was given in our place and all of this was done by the loving grace of God. I love the word ‘grace’ when talking about God’s work with His people, because when we do, this anagram inevitably comes into play: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Every blessing we have received as God’s children have been given freely to us, but paid for dearly by Jesus. He foots the bill for our salvation: He suffered – He died – He was cast down into hell. All of these things that He went through was what we deserve. He paid the price so that we receive the riches of God. That is what we are celebrating in this meal – that is what we are receiving in this meal! His body and blood in and with the bread and the wine, bring along with them the forgiveness of sins, and where there is forgiveness, there too is life and salvation. For this loving grace we acknowledge Him as our God and King, and sing His praises to all who would listen.
So who am I, that I should live and He should die
Under the rod? My God, my God
Why have You not forsaken me?
O taste and see – the Lord is free.
A truly apt question: why did He do this for us? Who are we that we deserve this kind of grace? Nobody. We are nobodies who don’t deserve any of these good things…which just makes His loving grace that much more amazing to us. He should have just forsaken us, wiped the board clean and started again from scratch, but he didn’t. Such is His love for us. And grace can’t be earned, or bought, it is freely given. That’s actually the only way you can receive it – freely. Such, again, is His love for us, that He doesn’t give us a way to work it off, but instead, makes it a gift. An undeserved, unwarranted, gift.
Yet is God here? Oh yes! By Word and promise clear,
In mouth and soul He makes us whole –
Christ, truly present in this meal.
O taste and see – the Lord is real.
This goes back to what I mentioned earlier. What are we receiving in this bread and wine? Christ’s very real body and blood. Why? Because He told us so in His Word, and we know that through it we receive forgiveness of our sins too, again, because He has promised it to us in His Word and we know that He keeps His promises.
Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free!
I do believe that I receive
His very body and His blood.
O taste and see – the Lord is good.
Rather self explanatory that one. I just want to say a big amen at the end of it. Our God is good. And now that we can start getting back together more safely, it is time to take a look at our practices and spiritual health, and maybe come into His house to receive that blessed meal once again…but not hastily, and not without the necessary precautions.
The elders and myself here at Messiah have talked about the reception of the Lord’s Supper in great detail over the last few weeks, and we will be discussing it again at least a couple more times before we offer it here during worship. We are tentatively saying that July 5th will be our first communion service – but that all depends on the way things continue to go. Whatever we decide to do, however, will be focussed on the safety of the recipient in keeping with the reverence of the Holy Meal we are partaking in, and not at the expense of it. But even before then, we are still offering this Sacrament for those who wish to receive it.
Should you wish to make an appointment to come in and receive this blessed meal before the beginning of July, or are just wanting more information on the meal itself or the practices were are observing during it’s offering, please give me a call at the church and we can set up a time for you to come in. As of this afternoon, I have communed 24 people here at Messiah since the pandemic started, making sure that they received that assurance of sins forgiven when needed, and I would love to be able to add you to that list as well.
God’s richest blessings on you all in this transitionary time, and for those of you I don’t get a hold of by phone over the next little while, I apologize and ask for your forgiveness. My schedule has just become a little busier of late, but I’m not complaining a bit. The peace of the Lord be with you all. Amen.
In Christ and His service,