DevotionalDiscussion thought of the day:
15 I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
1 Corinthians 10:15-17 (NAB)
But suppose you say, “What if I feel that I am unfit?” Answer: This also is my temptation, especially inherited from the old order under the pope when we tortured ourselves to become so perfectly pure that God might not find the least blemish in us. Because of this we became so timid that everyone was thrown into consternation, saying, “Alas, I am not worthy!”
56 Then nature and reason begin to contrast our unworthiness with this great and precious blessing, and it appears like a dark lantern in contrast to the bright sun, or as dung in contrast to jewels. Because nature and reason see this, such people refuse to go to the sacrament and wait until they become prepared, until one week passes into another and one half year into yet another.
57 If you choose to fix your eye on how good and pure you are, to work toward the time when nothing will prick your conscience, you will never go.
61 People with such misgivings must learn that it is the highest wisdom to realize that this sacrament does not depend upon our worthiness. We are not baptized because we are worthy and holy, nor do we come to confession pure and without sin; on the contrary, we come as poor, miserable men, precisely because we are unworthy. The only exception is the person who desires no grace and absolution and has no intention to amend his life (1)
The one thing that kept me going this week could be described with words from a sermon illustration of Tony Campolo, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin!” Except for me it was more like “It’s Saturday,Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, but Sunday’s a comin!” It was a seriously rough week for me, not just physically, but spiritually. And my level of depression was significant, as I observed a depth of brokenness of the church, ( rather in the group of churches I am a member of) I had not seen before, and I could do little about it.
Let me be honest, I had done what I constantly encourage others not to do, what I tell them often to remember. That God is with you, that He is your refuge, your sanctuary, your peace. At times I stopped looking forward to Sunday, stopped looking forward to sharing in, participating in the incredible blessing that nourishes us, that reminds us that nothing can separate us from Christ.
He has given us His Body, His precious blood, He has drawn us to the cross, that our dead, dried out bones can find life. We have entered into a relationship with Him, where He binds Himself to us in the New Covenant. He doesn’t expect us to heal ourselves, nor does He expect us to be serene when we come to the altar, when we fall at His feet.
In a way, I suppose seeing the brokenness is a good thing, for it drives me back to the cross. After this week, I cannot take my own righteousness for granted, nor that of the church. We must seek the healing that we need, a healing that is found only in the presence of Christ, the one crucified so that our we could join Him in death and rise again with Him (see Romans 6 and Colossians 2)
And so I look forward to that point, 24 hours from now, when I will hear the people I shepherd utter those incredible words, “and also with you”. (for my RCC friends – and with your Spirit) and I will taste and know the goodness of the Lord.
He is our hope, our refuge, our healing, our ever-present help in times of brokenness.
LORD, HAVE MERCY!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 453). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.(from the Large Catechism:Fifth Part: The Sacrament of the Altar)