Sacrament of Altar Part II
August 30, 2017
· Last week, we considered the nature and the benefits of our Lord’s Supper, tonight we consider the power of our Lord’s Supper and who is worthy to receive it.
· Here at Trinity 1/3 of our 1200 plus communicant members receive the Supper regularly, 1/3 occasionally, and 1/3 not at all.
· The first half of the catechism, Luther said, was to be brought to mind again and again, that you could never truly master it, but you repeated and remembered and inwardly digested it because – and I quote – “without it, our souls become rusty, as it were, and we lose ourselves.” Here, as we finish our catechism, we reflect on another Luther quote… If a person stays away from the sacrament, day by day he will become more and more callous and cold, and eventually spurn it altogether. To avoid this, we must examine our heart and conscience and act like a person who really desire to be right with God. The more we do this, the more will our heart be warmed and kindled, and it will not grow entirely cold.
The longer I stay alive – and I’ve made a good go at thirty years running now – the longer I stay alive, the more I realize that experience can do one of two things: sometimes it makes us numb, and other times, it deepens our understanding. Sometimes, if you are a social worker, you see sad, sad lives of people day in and day out and the sheer amount of terrible makes you numb to the real and human plight before you. Other times, the experience helps our words and our actions mean more, in the way that the phrase “I love you” cannot help but mean more when said after 50 years of marriage, when faced with surgery and brain tumors and a painful end, it cannot help but mean more than it did on your wedding day.
I don’t know precisely why it works out this way, but I do have one thought as we turn to our catechism today. But I’ll share that at the end.
· First question tonight – How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? Read together. This is basically the same answer that Luther gives in the section on baptism. Certainly not just the water, but the water combined with the word does these great things. Certainly not just eating and drinking but these words
· Second question: Who receives this sacrament worthily? Read together.
Notice Luther’s first thought – it’s good to fast. It’s good to have bodily discipline, but it’s not everything. (Fasting).
Here we hear the same words that St. Paul writes in Romans 8, the same words that the Psalmist uses in Psalm 27… If God is for us, then who can be against us? If he has placed inestimable worth upon us, then what could man do to us? If he has taken away the sting of death, then, as Luther penned in A Mighty Fortress, “And take they (he’s talking about the devils) our life // goods, fame, child or wife // he can harm us none // he’s judged the deed is done // one little word can fell him.”
The one who receives the sacrament worthily is the one that believes those two little words: for you. This is done for you. It is strength for you. It is life for you. It is love for you. It is forgiveness for you. For you, because God promised to deliver those things through these things, for you.
· Apply- Three thoughts in conclusion.
First, it seems as though the difference between mindless repetition and meaningful reflection is one’s intention. Are we being intentional when we come to the Lord’s Supper? Do we look at our watches to see how quick Pastor Muther can get through that proper preface, or do we take care to listen to it? Do we take the bread and the wine remembering that they are body and blood and that eating and drinking them grant forgiveness of all our failures and faults?
Second, A story… Cindy… having a life threatening kind of a surgery… asked for communion… said, “Pastor, don’t get me wrong, I like your preaching ok. But when I take communion, there is something special there that I can’t explain.”
Third, a quote from a man named John Chrysostom, called John Golden Tongue, a wonderful preacher from the 400’s A.D. "Let us then return from [the Communion] table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil; thinking on our head [Christ] and on the love that He has shown for us..."
Amen and amen.
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