Celebrating the Lord’s Supper, the Feast for Broken Folks
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. 16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17 And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. 18 Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar? 1 Corinthians 10:14-18 (NLT)
69 True and worthy communicants, on the other hand, are those timid, perturbed Christians, weak in faith, who are heartily terrified because of their many and great sins, who consider themselves unworthy of this noble treasure and the benefits of Christ because of their great impurity, and who perceive their weakness in faith, deplore it, and heartily wish that they might serve God with a stronger and more cheerful faith and a purer obedience.
70 This most venerable sacrament was instituted and ordained primarily for communicants like this, as Christ says, “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Likewise, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”8 Likewise, “The power of God is made perfect in weakness.”9 Likewise, “As for a man who is weak in faith, welcome him, for God has welcomed him” (Rom. 14:1, 3). For whoever believes on the Son of God, be his faith strong or weak, has eternal life (John 3:16). (1)
He says to her: “Unfortunately I can live and dispense love only in the small coin of everyday life—but then there is that person whose television is too loud, who makes so much noise, or who is so uncouth; then I have to try to understand him, to keep calm and to smile, and this will be true love without all the rhetoric.” And he tells us a brief parable that reveals him as he really is. An Irishman, who has done little good in his life, dies and comes before the heavenly tribunal. He stands in a long line behind those who are already being judged, and he hears and sees how the Lord scans the ledger of each individual and then says to the first: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat. Paradise!” And to the second: “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. Paradise!” To the third: “I was naked and you clothed me. Paradise!” And his heart sank deeper and deeper, for he had done none of these things. So he comes in fear and trembling before the judge and can hardly raise his eyes. But in one of his timid glances he observes what seems to be an enigmatic, mischievous smile in the eyes of the judge. And the Lord consults the ledger and says to him: “Well, there’s a lot missing here. But once I was unhappy and you told a joke and made me laugh. Off with you—Paradise!” This is typical of John Paul I himself. That’s exactly how he was. He not only told us a joke, but he bequeathed to us his smile and gave us a glimpse of what humanity really is; he let us surmise something about our lost paradise. (2)
Forty-three years ago, as I watched a priest commune people at a prayer meeting in our home, I realized that was what I wanted to do with my life.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a 91-year-old lady in her room in a residential care facility, or hundreds at pastor’s conference. It doesn’t matter whether it is in a grand cathedral, or in a humble chapel.
It is also why I grieve the disintegration of the church, as more and more divisions split her, and break the fellowship that is found in Christ, and in His death and resurrection. I have wept as I refrained from communion at a friends church (3). Likewise, I weep as I hear men say they would never commune one “one of them”.
Even as we as God’s people need to take and eat, to take and drink the Body and Blood of Christ, it is not a right. It is a need, not a membership benefit. The Lutheran confessions I quoted above in blue make it clear, the way you are “worthy” to commune is not because of your membership, or how mature you are, or how strong a believer. Rather it is because you recognize you need God’s presence, His healing and His mercy.
We recognize we aren’t able to live and the nourishment of Christ’s Body and Blood sustains us, renews us, revitalizes us. It is that “coin of everyday life” that Pope John Paul 1 mentioned, and while his illustration of the Irishman is how he pictured himself, it is a fine picture of the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist as well, and the ministry that is provided through His Body and Blood does in our lives.
For once i was unhappy, broken, crushed by sin and unrighteousness, and then you invited me to a feast, and made me laugh and know joy and peace.
This is what happens as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, as we celebrate His life, lived in us, and therefore our life, lived in Him. This is why this feast, this sacrament is so precious, so important that theologians can’t explain it, but a 8-year-old can desire it. It is Christ in you, the hope for those of us broken, the hope of sharing in God’s glory!
So come, all you are burdened, who are weak in faith, and find rest, and life and laughter.And God will give you rest.
(1) Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
(2) Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
(3) Because of different beliefs, different denominations have different rules about communion. Not to be picky or self-righteous, but because they believe a person can eat or drink judgment on themselves (see 1 Cor. 11) and they can’t actively be a part of that. Such actions are often taken as hostile, but they should be viewed as a call to unity and to settling the matters that divide us. Understanding this, even as my friend and I desire to commune together, and it pains us not to, we long for the day when we shall.