Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 1 Corinthians 11:28-30 (NLT)
“These words, I have said, are not preached to wood or stone but to you and me; otherwise Christ might just as well have kept quiet and not instituted a sacrament. Ponder, then, and include yourself personally in the “you” so that he may not speak to you in vain.
In this sacrament he offers us all the treasure he brought from heaven for us, to which he most graciously invites us in other places, as when he says in Matt. 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will refresh you.
”Surely it is a sin and a shame that, when he tenderly and faithfully summons and exhorts us to our highest and greatest good, we act so distantly toward it, neglecting it so long that we grow quite cold and callous and lose all desire and love for it.”
It’s my twenty-fifth anniversary today. As I was thinking about that, and about my sermon this week, the quote from Luther’s Large Catechism above kept coming back to mind. Let me explain why.
Twenty-five years is a pretty decent period of time. We’ve faced unemployment, major health issues (2 years in I had a massive cardiac arrest due to a genetic problem). We’ve faced adjusting to having a child after seventeen years of just us. An incredibly brilliant son, but who has some challenges as well. We have survived, we have endured. Like our parents, who also have endured much. There is a challenge to this though, and that is frequent interaction with each other. Reminding each other of our love for each other. Being passionate and perhaps even more… compassionate towards each other.
It is all to easy to stop working, to just assume the other will be there. To become apathetic in our relationship, to just get by. But the problem is that when our hearts look for that which is needed. The support, the encouragement, the interaction. The rest that comes when a couple’s home is their place of rest, their place of being nurtured, their place of being able to drop everything.
Are Kay and I perfect at this? No. ( I am involved in this after all! 🙂 ) But we do well… and have endured by God’s grace.
So what has this to do with communion?
Well, it is a primary contact point – a refuge, a place of peace and restoration in our walk with God. It is a treasure, that too often we get apathetic about, not realizing what it is… God calling us to gather around His table, and feeding us in way that is incredible. The family of God getting together, celebrating the forgiveness of sins and mercy of God and His love for us all. Clearly seen when we realize that piece of bread – yes it is His body, that little cup of wine, His precious blood – give for you and I.
As Luther says – those words aren’t for rocks and stones – Jesus spoke these words for you and I!
There are two ways I see us growing, as the church at large, callous and cold to it.
The first is when we think that it is somehow less necessary than the sermon, and therefore we celebrate it far less often. Or we cut it out of our masses or worship services because of time or convenience. (even heard one church that wanted to cut it out because of the cost of bread and wine..!) What message are we saying when we do such a thing? Are we reducing our belief that it is effective, that it is not profitable for our spiritual renewal?
The other way is when we just look at the celebration mechanically, as a duty, not as a joyous celebration of love. When we realize that God wants us there, that His greatest desire is to fellowship with His people – and that is why we gather. That we look at it with anticipation, recognizing what God is doing in this precious time. The more we consider that, the more hungry we get for it, the more it takes on a meaning that is precious – the more we desire it.
In both cases – in determining that we don’t need to celebrate it often, and simply it being a duty and not a celebration – we lead people into apathy, we lead them away from realizing the grace and love revealed to them in Christ. Paul says such is the reason for our spiritual apathy, and even spiritual death. Luther concurs with scripture, calling such an attitude a sin. It’s something we need to think about today, as the church in America has fallen asleep… and in some places is beginning to revive, breaking its fast from the blessings of God, and growing in desire of them.
This is a precious time with God, some of the most valuable and nourishing time we have in our week. It is a treasure, a necessity, a blessing beyond our able to understand, but easily one we can appreciate.
it’s a homecoming, a feast, a celebration, a time that should inspire us to worship, a time where we can know God’s promises are true in Christ.
So come, blessed children of the Father, to a feast prepared for you……
[i] Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 454). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.LARGE CATECHISM – Sacrament of the Altar