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The Sacrament of the Altar

1 Corinthians 11.23-26/Verba


Holy Thursday
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Thu, Apr 5, 2012 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

[I Corinthians 11.23b-26]

. . . the Lord Jesus The same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lords' death till he come.

1 On Thursday of Holy Week, Christ our Lord instituted his Holy Supper as he celebrated the Passover with his beloved disciples.  By his sacred Word, Christ brought the ancient Passover to its culmination and established its heavenly fulfillment here on earth in the Sacrament of the Altar.  By Christ's word, the bread of the sacrament is his body.  By Christ's word, the wine in the chalice is his blood—on that first Holy Thursday, and on this day still.  No longer must we eat the Passover lamb according to the law of Moses, and splash its blood upon our doorposts.  Now we eat the bread that is the body of the true Lamb of God, Christ himself.  Now, we drink the blood of the heavenly Lamb that takes away the sin of the world and eternally rescues us from the angel of death. 

2 St. Paul says of the Sacrament:

[I Corinthians 10.16]

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

In this Sacrament, Christ, the heavenly Lamb without blemish comes to earth to save us from our sins; for he is the Lamb who was slain for the salvation of the world.  So in faith we eat and drink the bread and wine that are Christ's true body and blood, and Christ rescues us from certain death and delivers us from our enslavement under sin by his gracious gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation.

3 Each time we partake of his body and blood, Christ also bids us remember him and his words.  We do this remembering by saying, "Amen," as we receive the blessed Sacrament.  Our "Amen" says: I remember Christ, and I believe that the bread and wine are Christ's true body and blood.  Our "Amen" says: I remember Christ and hold fast to everything he has said and done for me.  Our "Amen," at the reception gives voice to our faithful remembrance and says: Here Christ comes and makes his home with me and brings his salvation to me.  Here, Christ gives me his true body for the strengthening of my soul.  Here Christ gives me his true blood to raise me from the dead and give me everlasting life.  Here, in the bread and wine connected to his holy Word, Christ my Lord gives all his holy blessings unto me: Spiritual food for the nourishment of my soul; physical food for the restoration of my body; emotional strength and sustenance to face of the assaults of the devil; and the holy perfection of body and soul once known by Adam and Eve before their fall into Sin.  Ultimately, our "Amen," is our remembrance before God that the sacrament of the Altar truly is the medicine of immortality, for in this gracious meal Christ heals the sickness of sin in our lives, and imparts to us the redemption of our spirits, the perfection of our bodies, and the salvation of our souls that leads to everlasting life.

4 Jesus says:

[St. John 6.51, 54-58]

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. . . Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.

5 The world calls this sacrament of Christ's body and blood pure foolishness.  The scientifically minded say it is impossible for bread and wine to be Christ's true body and blood.  The skeptical say that Christ cannot possibly be bodily present here and on so many other altars throughout the world all at the same time.  These, and all doubts about the Sacrament of the Altar come from the devil.  He plants these doubts among us in an unholy attempt to convince us that this is all just foolishness, so you might trust your own intelligence over the Word of the Lord.  He tempts us with science to try to make us trust our fleshly eyes instead our Spirit-directed ears and our conscience bound by the Word of God.  The devil constantly questions Christ's ability to be wherever he wills whenever he wills however he wills, in the hope that he can win you to his side, tear down your faith, and steal from you the gracious gifts Christ gives so abundantly in this sacrament.

6 Against every attack of the devil we have the sure word of Christ our Lord.  "This is my body, given for you.  This my blood of the new covenant, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."  Against the assaults of Satan, Christ's words stand certain and true.  Christ's word, mysteriously and divinely bound to the bread and wine send the devil off in flight from the face of every faithful Christian.  For by his Word and his Word alone, Christ makes this sacrament the great blessing that it is.  And by his word Christ defeats every doubt the devil may devise. 

7 Speaking of this word of Christ, St. Paul says:

[I Corinthians 11.23]

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you.

Christ spoke his word over the bread and wine and consecrated them before the apostles in the upper room.  Christ spoke his word in revelation to St. Paul.  And now, by the working of the Spirit of God, that same word makes the bread and wine which we consume just what Christ says it is: His true body and His true blood, given to us Christians to eat and drink for the forgiveness of our sins.

8 The Sacrament of the Altar is Christ's gift of himself to us for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.  Body and soul, humanity and divinity, Christ comes and grants us these blessings in Holy Communion.  By this gift he strengthens us when the devil tries to lead us into temptation.  By this gift Christ leads us back to God, and even comes to us and unites himself to us, so that we do not stand alone in our battles with sin, temptation, and the devil himself.  By the gift of his true body and blood, Christ strengthens and sustains us in this life of struggle, and graciously welcomes us even now to the blessed heavenly banquet of the life of the world to come. 

7 There is no greater gift in heaven or on earth, than this holy gift of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar.  So indeed today we humbly remember our Lord's sacrifice, give Him thanks for this holy gift and our salvation, and by our faithful reception of his body and blood, we receive forgiveness, life, and salvation from Christ our Lord, and we confidently proclaim Christ's death upon the cross until he comes again.  So together with all the faithful, today we pray, "Come Lord Jesus."  And in faith, we receive him as he answers our prayer and comes indeed in the bread and wine that he has consecrated as his very own body and blood.  Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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