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1 Corinthians

11:23-32

 

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

 

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

(ESV)

 

 

Come to the Supper

Tuesday of Lent 5

24 March 2015

While I relish the family feasts that accompany the church's holy days, such as the one coming at Easter, I almost enjoy more the leftovers of those days than the feast itself. The abundance of the feasts make for good eating for some days to come. Leftovers can be very enjoyable. In some narrowly circumscribed ways, the Church is feasting on leftovers in the Supper of the Lord. God had prepared the banqueting table for His Old Testament people. He had His servants, the prophets, invite them to the readied feast. But those who called themselves His people would not come. They preferred to gnaw on the bones of their own putrid righteousness. They preferred to remain in the stinking squalor of their own homes and farmsteads. They preferred the home cooking of self justification. The Lord's Day manna they hoarded for themselves was wormy and decaying, but they desired it more than trusting that God would rightly feed them at the right time. The Lord was left with the abundance of "a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined" (Is 25:6). He had leftovers galore!

 

We, who had no right to the feast, who were not among the chosen, who had not been invited from of old, now were compelled to come: "The feast is ready! Come, to the feast; greatest and least!" They may be leftovers from the Old Testament, but they always make great eating. Thus we approach the Communion Table with the understanding that we are grafted in by the gracious invitation of the Lord, who sent the prophets of the New Testament; the apostles, to proclaim the universal invitation to the festal board. We have come to a feast not prepared for us, but for others, but they would not come! How shocked and grieved we are by their refusal of the Father's gracious invitation. In that shock we should again experience that enormous relief and joy at being brought to the feast to eat the abundant remains of their neglect. Likewise, it warns us not to neglect the Table which the Lord has set for us in the New Testament of His blood. We may not return to business as usual once we have eaten. We may not check out our property, or delight in our new car, or lounge with the wife of our youth (Lk 14:18-20), so that we decline the invitation of our Lord.

 

The Lord breaks the bread of His body and offers the cup of His blood on the night of His betrayal to the new Israel reconstituted of the 12 tribes of His disciples. Our grafting in happens there with the remnant of Israel gathered by Israel's Lord and the Master of the banquet. So it is with a profound sense of humility that we approach the table of the Lord, for we are the guests there through absolute grace; in no way worthy of its sumptuous fare. Our sin and weakness compel us to come. The Lord invites. Who would decline the invitation? Come to the Supper!

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

"In the Gospel we have been called to a supper; or rather others have been called, we not called, but drawn; not only drawn, but even compelled (Lk 14:23). For so have we heard, that 'A man once gave a great banquet and invited many' (Lk 14:16). Who is this man but the 'one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' (1Ti 2:5)? He sent his servants that those who had been invited might come, for the hour had arrived when they should come. Who are they who had been invited, but those who had been called by the prophets who were sent before? When? From of old; ever since the prophets were sent they invited to Christ's Supper. They were sent then to the people of Israel. Often were they sent, often did they invite men to come at the hour of the Supper. But upon receiving those who invited them, they refused the Supper. What does it mean that they received those who invited them, but refused the Supper? They read the prophets and killed Christ. When they killed Him, though they knew it not, they prepared a Supper for us. When the Supper was prepared, when Christ had been offered up, when the Supper of the Lord, which the faithful know, had been set forth after the resurrection of Christ, and established by His hands and mouth, then the Apostles were sent to them, to whom the prophets had been sent before: 'Come to the Supper.'

 

Augustine, Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, 62.1  

 

Prayer

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your suffering and death. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

For Christians who are deprived of the Supper of the Lord, that they would be invited to the feast of the body and blood of Christ

 

For those who believe that they are unworthy of the invitation of the Lord, that they would know and believe that he is worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins

 

For the shut-ins of Memorial Lutheran Church, especially Reuben Braun, Helen Weaver, Pearl White, Anita Markwardt, Rita Baker, Robert Frerking, and all those who are unable to attend the services of the holy days because they are shut-in, that they would look forward to the eternal feast to come

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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