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1 Corinthians 10:16-22


 

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? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (ESV)

A Lot of Communion

Holy Thursday

2 April 2015

There are so many communions at the sacrament of the altar! I struggled to communicate (sorry for the pun) all of these to my catechumens in adult confirmation class on Tuesday night. There is the communion of the body of Christ with the bread, the communion of the wine with the blood of Christ, the communion of the believer with Christ through the reception of His body and blood, the communion of the communicants with one another in the holy body of the church (the reception of the body unites the body). There is a fullness here that is not easily distilled down to one idea or burned off until there is a single essence. There is a multiplicity of fellowships here around the things that are a fellowship and create fellowship.

 

Should we be surprised that so many related things happen at the altar of fellowship? Why shouldn't there be an abundance of bringing into unity through the things that create unity and that themselves participate in a unity of body and blood? We are united with Christ, the Head of the church, by the reception of His body and blood, why shouldn't we be intimately connected with the body redeemed by His precious blood? No more intimate communion between persons is there than the unity that the communicants have around the altar. That intimate communion requires that all hearts are united in confession of the faith of the altar (Acts 2:42) and loving forgiveness toward each other (Mt 5:23).

 

The children of God come to the altar to receive the inheritance that has been bequeathed to them in the last will and testament of the eternal Son of God. No more enriching experience can be had than to receive with the mouth the most precious gifts of Christ's body and blood. Christ Himself has invited us children so generously: "At that time Jesus declared, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light'" (Mt 11:25-30). We are His children by an adoption of grace and as such He has asked us to come to Him and find rest for our souls. That is what is happening in the great communion. Here we are united with Him, His body and blood, and one another. That's a lot of communion.

 

Martin Luther

 

"To signify this fellowship, God has appointed such signs of this sacrament as in every way serve this purpose and by their very form stimulate and motivate us to this fellowship. For just as the bread is made out of many grains ground and mixed together, and out of the bodies of many grains there comes the body of one bread, in which each grain loses its form and body and takes upon itself the common body of the bread; and just as the drops of wine, in losing their own form, become the body of one common wine and drink-so it is and should be with us, if we use this sacrament properly. Christ with all saints, by his love, takes upon himself our form (Phil 2:7), fights with us against sin, death, and all evil. This enkindles in us such love that we take on his form, rely upon his righteousness, life, and blessedness.

 

"And through the interchange of his blessings and our misfortunes, we become one loaf, one bread, one body, one drink, and have all things in common. O this is a great sacrament, says St. Paul, that Christ and the church are one flesh and bone. Again through this same love, we are to be changed and to make the infirmities of all other Christians our own; we are to take upon ourselves their form and their necessity, and all the good that is within our power we are to make theirs, that they might profit from it. That is real fellowship, and that is the true significance of this sacrament. In this way we are changed into one another and are made into a community by love. Without love there can be no such change." 

 

Martin Luther, The Blessed Sacrament, 14 

 

Prayer

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. 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; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

For all those who are seeking the rest that only Christ can give, that they might find peace in Him alone

 

For Joanna Karner and Ann Kunz, and all those who have chronic diseases, that they would receive strength every day to live confessing the goodness of God

 

For all who will come to the altar of the Lord this night, that they would do so in repentance and a hungry faith

Art: POURBUS, Frans the Younger The Last Supper (1548)

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