Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

6th Chief Part

Six Chief Parts from Luther’s Small Catechism, that is what I said I would cover this summer through my Newsletter Articles, and now, here we are.  The last one.  The climax of the Catechism.

The Lord’s Supper.
This is the reason why we gather on Thursday night and Sunday morning.  But before we go forward, we first need to define worship.

Too often, Christians think of worship as something that we do for God.  Now there is a place for thanking God, praising God.  But when people say, “I can worship God anywhere.”  That is what they mean by worship, that we are doing something for God.

But they miss the point.

In fact, Lutherans have a word for what is oftentimes called worship.  We call it the Divine Service.  Literally, God comes to serve us.  Notice the pattern of worship: God forgives; we give thanks and praise.  Christ is preached; we pray.  God gives us the Sacrament; we sing and are dismissed.  Worship is a back and forth action between God and his bride the Church, this is what the liturgy is meant to foster.  God talking to us, and us returning praise to God.  

This cannot happen as you stroll out in nature.  This cannot happen just anywhere.  God has picked a place where this happens: In the Word and Sacraments.  This is where God has promised to be for you.  I want us to chew on this (pun intended): the reason to come to church is to receive God’s gifts, namely here, the Lord’s Supper.  Without God’s gifts there would be no singing, no praising, no prayer.  Without God’s action, there would be no worship.

That is what defines ‘worship’: It is God’s sheep being tended to by God himself.  The Holy Spirit dwells in us corporately, not merely individually.  Every time Scripture talks of the body of Christ it is in the plural.

This then leads into the Church as the Community.  Notice that Community is related to the word “Commune.”  Fellowship is important in the body, a corporate confession of what we believe together is what makes us united.  Multiple confessions and beliefs make Community and, by extension, Communion impossible.  “You cannot serve two masters,” Jesus says.  When talking about the Lord’s Supper, Paul writes that “you cannot partake of the table of demons and the Lord.”

At the Lord’s table you are invited as guests and Jesus is the host.  Which means that Jesus dictates the terms of our unity.

At the table you receive Christ’s very body and blood.  You receive all of Jesus, not a part of him.  His whole person is there.  Jesus promises and He cannot lie.  The debate that has raged concerning if the bread and wine are Jesus body and blood is wrong-headed.  It wasn’t until 500 years ago when Christians began using their reason instead of faith to dictate what was going on.

Jesus meant what he said, “This is my body.  This is my blood.”  It is not a parable, nor a symbol.  The Word of God that spoke creation into being is speaking again. Christ is using his final moments to give his gifts to his followers.  The Lord’s Supper is Christ’s final will and testament.
This means that the Lord’s Supper is “for you.”  All who have faith in these words has what God promises.  The Lord’s Supper is God’s guarantee that you are good before Him.

Therefore, this requires faith.  All who do not have faith in these words are unworthy of the sacrament because the sacrament is meant to foster and create faith and trust in God’s work for us in Christ.

Those who do not confess our faith are putting themselves in danger if they come and partake of the sacrament.  Paul says that those who abused the sacrament are guilty of the body and blood of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 11) Those who do not share our confession of faith, who do not walk with us, but come to the table anyway do not receive forgiveness but rather judgment.  God doesn’t want that! That is not why Jesus instituted the sacrament.  It is given to forgive sins not incur judgment.  When abused though…

This is why we do not give Communion to those who do not confess our faith: we love them.  As a steward of the mysteries of God, as a Pastor, I love them so much that I do not want to be handing out judgment to them.  Because God wants to hand out forgiveness from Christ.
Therefore, come talk to us! Walk with us as we walk with our gracious Lord.

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew

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