God’s Victory Through the Sacrament of Communion, part 1

This is my husband’s sermon for Maundy Thursday.  Because of the coronavirus, the congregation could not gather, but it is also posted on our church website.  I think it does a good job of explaining the different beliefs about this sacrament, and how it is a crucial component of God’s plan for victory over evil.

I think nothing has seemed so strange to me as writing a Maundy Thursday sermon knowing that the sacrament of Holy Communion will not take place that night. Nor will we strip the chancel area in preparation for a Good Friday service. It is, however, important for us not to forget these times at this most important part of the Church year. We are people of faith, faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of the living God who bore our punishment for our sinfulness and freed us all from the power of sin, death and the devil. Satan no doubt thinks he has won some sort of battle here by emptying sanctuaries around the world this paschal season, but he is not only a liar, he is a fool for, while the Lord is present in His sanctuary, so He is present in the hearts and minds of His chosen people. This week is the week of Christus Victor, the victorious Messiah, victorious over all that is wrong with creation, all that has been distorted by sin.

We see part of the Lord’s victory here in the 26th chapter of Matthew beginning at the 26th verse.

The Lord and His closest disciples are assembled in the upper room for a final meal together. Jesus has spoken of it as the Passover meal, but it is a day earlier than the calendar denotes Passover because, by the time most Jews were eating Passover, Jesus would be in the tomb. The Passover meal has many discrete parts because it is not only a time of eating but of learning and re-learning about God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Each part of the meal was a discreet learning experience. Jesus starts something new that night. He establishes another meal to replace the Passover, one that is meant to teach and re-teach believers over the centuries like the Passover meal, but with a great difference between the two celebrations. The Passover meal looked back in remembrance alone, it is intellectual and maybe spiritual. God is spoken of but not present physically because He was, at that time, not yet incarnated, He had not taken on the body of a man. In Christ Jesus, however, God had become like us, He had walked among us, living like us except without sin. And He was going to stay with us in a new way, a way both physical and spiritual. And so the new meal of the faithful must be both physical and spiritual.

To be continued ……

In Remembrance

“…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!

Image result for images of do this in remembrance of me