Kruiz edited
What God Says
Tuesday of Lent 3
6 March 2018
"You can't be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you're drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god. That doesn't make you a person of faith. That makes you schizophrenic" (quoted in First Things [April 2008], 63). Or so says "comedian" Bill Maher. The Apostle Paul only warned us that we would be taken for fools, if we believed the Word of the Crucified God (1Co 1:21-31). Now, Maher has upped the ante. We Christians are not just foolish, we are psychologically deranged, according to him. Of course, Maher is trying to be funny. However, he actually sounds like the old Communist Party hacks, who in the bad old days of Soviet Union mouthed the party line that Christianity was a psychosis. The Soviets "treated" it in dismal psychiatric prisons. There is nothing funny about that. In fact, Maher's reputation for being politically incorrect is tarnished by his willingness to turn politically correct canons of meaning on the Christian Church and her teachings. If the church must conform herself to the musings of such as Bill Maher it will be a dark day indeed. If we do, we Christians will not be fools for Christ; just fools.
While Maher's ridicule smacks of Soviet-style methods, it also reminds us that many Christians agree with Maher's implied criticism of the presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. There are people who call themselves Christians who believe that Christ is now confined in heaven as a "space-god" (wherever that "heaven" may be), and could in no way permit His body to be the bread nor His blood to be the wine on Christian altars. Martin Luther called these Christians "Sacramentarians."
They were unable to comprehend how the body of the Lord could possibly be present under the bread to be consumed at the invitation of the Lord Christ, who gives Himself in this body and blood. Unable to digest what God had said they turned on God's speech and tried to reinterpret it to fit with their more correct views. "Everyone knows that the bread is incapable of bearing the body of the Lord. God could not possibly have meant what He said." Therefore, their view of the presence of Christ is sometimes characterized as the doctrine of the "real absence." Ultimately, they are using the same canons of correctness that Maher is using, except they are not being quite as radical as he is. At least Maher is consistent. But both would deny the real presence of Christ in the Supper.
Christians believe that when Christ has said, "This is my body," of the bread in the Supper, He both knows what He is talking about and can do exactly what He says He can do. Whether or not I know how He can do it, is not exactly my business. Our business is to listen when God speaks and believe what He says. If we believe only that which fits with our own human reason and presuppositions, whether they be politically correct or not, we will believe very little. And that very little will hardly be distinctively Christian. No matter how hard you try you cannot make the Word of God of none effect. Your thinking doesn't make things so. God's saying does. We need to conform our minds to what God says.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"It is very troublesome that my wisdom is only passive and that I am ordered to mortify and kill it. Indeed, on this account many have fallen horribly, since they were not able bear this mortification. Thus, the Sacramentarians teach God most prettily: 'How is the body of Christ able to be in the bread and wine when Christ has ascended into heaven?' For they think this way: 'Because I am unable to comprehend the presence of the body and blood in the Lord's Supper, I shall prescribe to God some plan by which He can be present.'
"In this way, you see, they bring God down to their own order and teaching. They wish to relegate Him to a place in heaven, and they do not know what or where heaven is. Why do you not rather close your eyes and ears and listen to the Word? Why do you not submit to it when you have heard it? Psalm 37 says: 'Be still before God' (Ps 37:7). Let Him direct you. Do not direct Him. Then things turn out well. Then God bestows far more than we are able to accomplish by our counsels and wisdom. If the fanatics closed their eyes and ears and came to this conclusion: 'Behold, I will take the bread and wine, and I will believe that I am really eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ,' they would very easily be freed from their error. But because they measure the words of Christ in a mathematical way and dispute about heaven and earth, they never understand the true and proper power of the words of Christ; for they have been driven mad by the blind judgment of reason." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 39.2
1 Corinthians

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)
O Lord, in the wondrous Sacrament of the Altar 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; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Ileene Robinson, that the Lord would grant her healing and strength
For all those who travel, that they would be kept safe by the holy angels
For the family of Pr. Andrew Simcak, who now sees Jesus face to face, that they would grieve with the hope of the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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