Tag Archives: Holy Communion

The Greatest Bible Study

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“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32

This has always been one of my favorite passages of scripture, titled in my Bible, “On the Road to Emmaus.”  Two followers of Jesus meet him on the way to a village called Emmaus, shortly after the crucifixion. They do not recognize him and tell him how their teacher was crucified, and that some of the women in their company claimed that He had risen.  Jesus proceeds to lead them in the greatest Bible study of all time:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27

Finally he reveals himself to them at the evening meal, when he blesses and breaks the bread and gives it to them.  Wouldn’t you love to have an experience like that?  Well, guess what, you can.  We have the very words of Christ, recorded for us in the New Testament gospels;  we have the opportunity to meet with Him in the celebration of communion.  You can meet Him on the road of your own journey.  Ask Him to open your eyes;  do you feel your heart burning?

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Learning from the Liturgy

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I’ve always belonged to a liturgical church and I can’t imagine my spiritual life without it.  The liturgy isn’t just a ritual;  it doesn’t lose meaning because it’s familiar.  The liturgy is a powerful tool for teaching.

In the liturgy, I learn to know Christ better.  I meet Jesus through the words of Scripture, the confession and absolution, the sacrament and the sermon.  It’s personal.  Jesus speaks to me through these human and physical means.

Liturgy teaches me that my faith isn’t just about me and God.  It’s about me, God, and my sisters and brothers in Christ.  I’m joined with my fellow members in a mystical way that doesn’t happen anywhere else. We become one body as we sing, recite the creeds, and pray.  I see Christ on the faces of others and I know that they see Him in me.

Through the liturgy, I learn to feel comfortable in the larger church.  If I visit another Lutheran congregation while traveling, I find myself at home in the faith.  The service may be more contemporary, the logistics of communion different, but the elements of the liturgy themselves provide a reassuring familiarity.  I belong without knowing a single person’s name.  This comfort runs through time as well as place.  The earliest Christian services from the 4th and 5th century are strikingly similar to the Lutheran liturgy today.  I am connected to my forbears in the faith through our shared worship experience.

My participation in the weekly liturgy makes the unseen real to me.  When we say in our service that we worship along with “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven” we’re serious.  It is a “foretaste of the feast to come.”  My actions outside the sanctuary take on a heavenly significance and temporal concerns pale.

The liturgy teaches not only through words, but through shared experience.  It can be heard on the lips of preschoolers and whispers of the aged and dying.

The liturgy is the song of the church.  Live with it.  Learn from it. Love it.

 

In Remembrance

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“…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 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.”  1 Corinthians 11:23-25

Lutherans consider communion a sacrament because:

  1. God instituted it
  2. It includes a visible means
  3. It works salvation–this doesn’t mean communion saves us, but it strengthens our faith in the work of Christ

Isn’t it amazing that God comes to us in the simplest things:  the water of baptism, the bread and wine of the Eucharist?  Isn’t it wonderful that He choses a meal, an every day occurrence as the way the for us to not only remember Him and all He has done, but to experience His real presence with us and in us?

Meals are social occasions.  Sometimes at meals we celebrate, and sometimes we just enjoy life with family and friends.  The feast Christ prepares for us in communion is both.  We give thanks and praise to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, and we do this with the family of God, our congregation.  A Pastor once told me that the cross represents both:  the vertical bar is our relationship with God, the horizontal our fellowship with one another.  It is, as Paul said, “a profound mystery.”

Next time you commune, remember the gift Christ gave you, and remember the gift of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  It’s a time of oneness with Him and with each other.  Celebrate the mystery!

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In Remembrance of Me

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We hear those words on Sunday when we take Communion.  We need to come to the altar with the mindset of remembering that Jesus died on the cross for us.

Being the music person I am, I found a song.  “Remember” by Laura Story is a beautiful song, very simple, but the words are true:

This is the body that was torn for us
This is the blood that was spilt
Points to the pain you endured for us
Points to the shame, the blame, the guilt

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Move our hearts to remember

This is the Lamb who was slain for us
So we the church may enter in
So bitter sweet when we think of You
The One who bore our curse, our sin

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Move our hearts to remember, to remember

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come
Move our hearts to remember

 

Whose Feet Have You Washed?

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“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:26-28.

 

In a few days our congregation, and many others will be celebrating Maundy Thursday, commemorating the institution of Holy Communion.  It is customary during the service to hear how before the meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

 

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.  He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Them he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”  John 13:3-6

 

This would have been astounding.  It was customary at the time for the lowliest servant in the household to wash the dirty feet of those coming in from dusty roads.  Even peers did not wash each others feet, except on a rare occasion as a sign of great love.  I don’t know what would serve as a comparable example in our world – maybe being honored by having the President of the United States over to dinner, only for him to get up after the meal and say, “let me scrape and wash the dishes and take the garbage out for you”  How would we react?  Probably like Peter, protesting, “Oh no sir, we can’t let you do that!”

 

Jesus did this to give us an example of humble servanthood.

 

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13: 14-15

 

Jesus calls us to a life of sacrifice and humility.  Whose feet have you washed?

To be continued ….