The impact of Holy Communion

Today is Maundy Thursday, when Passion Week takes off.   In particular, this is the commemoration of the Last Supper of our Lord with His disciples, at which He instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion.

We Lutherans, of course, consider that the bread and wine convey the actual objective body and blood of the Risen Christ given for our salvation.  So of course Holy Communion is a huge deal for us, the very center of our spiritual lives, the tangible manifestation of the Gospel, of Christ giving His broken body and His shed blood “for you.”  My Reformed friends say that we only disagree on less important matters, such as the sacraments, but that only shows how different we are, since, to Lutherans, the sacraments are not less important!  That the Reformed think the sacraments are not so important is kind of the point for Lutherans.

But we have lots of readers from different theological traditions at this blog, and I’m glad of that.  For once, could we NOT ARGUE about the nature of this sacrament?  And instead just talk about its blessings.

Certainly Holy Communion is always a blessing, but can you tell about a time when receiving the Body and Blood of Christ had a particular impact on you?

I’d like to hear from non-Lutherans too, the whole range, from those who believe in transubstantiation to those who see the elements as mere symbols.  We usually consider Holy Communion in terms of what people believe it is–and quite rightly–but I’m curious about its effect on people, whatever their beliefs.

Again, NO ARGUING.  If an argument is made or breaks out or a criticism is launched against another commenter or church teaching or practice, I will delete the comment.  Just state your experience, perhaps including your theological tradition if that is not obvious, and then move on.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • RE

    As a new pastor my first time consecrating and distributing communion I felt a great connection between the people of my parish and me through Christ’s body and blood. For the first time I understood the relationship between communion and the fellowship of believers united in faith and life in Christ.

  • RE

    As a new pastor my first time consecrating and distributing communion I felt a great connection between the people of my parish and me through Christ’s body and blood. For the first time I understood the relationship between communion and the fellowship of believers united in faith and life in Christ.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Here is a confessional address from our hymnal materials:

    During this Lenten season we have heard our Lord’s call to intensify our struggle against sin, death, and the devil—all that prevents us from trusting in God and loving each other. Since it is our intention to receive the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ on this night when He instituted this blessed meal for our salvation, it is proper that we complete our Lenten discipline by diligently examining ourselves, as St. Paul urges us to do. This holy Sacrament has been instituted for the special comfort of those who are troubled because of their sin and who humbly confess their sins, fear God’s wrath, and hunger and thirst for righteousness.

    But when we examine our hearts and consciences, we find nothing in us but sin and death, from which we are incapable of delivering ourselves. Therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ has had mercy on us. For our benefit He became man so that He might fulfill for us the whole will and law of God and, to deliver us, took upon Himself our sin and the punishment we deserve.

    So that we may more confidently believe this and be strengthened in the faith and in holy living, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you.” It is as if He said, “I became man, and all that I do and suffer is for your good. As a pledge of this, I give you My body to eat.”

    In the same way also He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Again, it is as if He said, “I have had mercy on you by taking into Myself all your iniquities. I give Myself into death, shedding My blood to obtain grace and forgiveness of sins, and to comfort and establish the new testament, which gives forgiveness and everlasting salvation. As a pledge of this, I give you My blood to drink.”

    Therefore, whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup, confidently believing this Word and promise of Christ, dwells in Christ and Christ in him and has eternal life.

    We should also do this in remembrance of Him, showing His death—that He was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification. Giving Him our most heartfelt thanks, we take up our cross and follow Him and, according to His commandment, love one another as He has loved us. As our Lord on this night exemplified this love by washing His disciples’ feet, so we by our words and actions serve one another in love. For we are all one bread and one cup. For just as the one cup is filled with wine of many grapes and one bread made from countless grains, so also we, being many, are one body in Christ. Because of Him, we love one another, not only in word, but in deed and in truth.

    May the almighty and merciful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, accomplish this in us.

    Source:

    From the Lutheran Service Book, Altar Book, “Confessional Address for Maundy Thursday”

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Here is a confessional address from our hymnal materials:

    During this Lenten season we have heard our Lord’s call to intensify our struggle against sin, death, and the devil—all that prevents us from trusting in God and loving each other. Since it is our intention to receive the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ on this night when He instituted this blessed meal for our salvation, it is proper that we complete our Lenten discipline by diligently examining ourselves, as St. Paul urges us to do. This holy Sacrament has been instituted for the special comfort of those who are troubled because of their sin and who humbly confess their sins, fear God’s wrath, and hunger and thirst for righteousness.

    But when we examine our hearts and consciences, we find nothing in us but sin and death, from which we are incapable of delivering ourselves. Therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ has had mercy on us. For our benefit He became man so that He might fulfill for us the whole will and law of God and, to deliver us, took upon Himself our sin and the punishment we deserve.

    So that we may more confidently believe this and be strengthened in the faith and in holy living, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you.” It is as if He said, “I became man, and all that I do and suffer is for your good. As a pledge of this, I give you My body to eat.”

    In the same way also He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Again, it is as if He said, “I have had mercy on you by taking into Myself all your iniquities. I give Myself into death, shedding My blood to obtain grace and forgiveness of sins, and to comfort and establish the new testament, which gives forgiveness and everlasting salvation. As a pledge of this, I give you My blood to drink.”

    Therefore, whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup, confidently believing this Word and promise of Christ, dwells in Christ and Christ in him and has eternal life.

    We should also do this in remembrance of Him, showing His death—that He was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification. Giving Him our most heartfelt thanks, we take up our cross and follow Him and, according to His commandment, love one another as He has loved us. As our Lord on this night exemplified this love by washing His disciples’ feet, so we by our words and actions serve one another in love. For we are all one bread and one cup. For just as the one cup is filled with wine of many grapes and one bread made from countless grains, so also we, being many, are one body in Christ. Because of Him, we love one another, not only in word, but in deed and in truth.

    May the almighty and merciful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, accomplish this in us.

    Source:

    From the Lutheran Service Book, Altar Book, “Confessional Address for Maundy Thursday”

  • larry

    I truly hope this meets the spirit of this post because that’s my intent.

    I’ve always treasured communion and that includes every point of journey in the three theological traditions I was in (i.e. Baptist, PCA and Lutheran).

    Communion wherever I was has always been the high point of worship for me because I always felt that I was receiving from Christ and Christ. It has always had the effect of being the dearest thing to me. The effect it has had was always based on being given and receiving (even if I was ignorant of theological particulars at the time) forgiveness. That effect is why I always lamented any infrequency it had in any given church situation.

    It’s kind of hard to put into words, the effect. But it’s a plethora of that release and relaxation that forgiveness gives, “everything is going to be alright” (much like the trust one may had when your strong dad calmed your anxiety over something overwhelming to you), a firmness to the otherwise stormy uncertainty of life, and most of all “here is Jesus Christ” tangibly, manifestly, and palpably (and that included when in other traditions – seriously). It didn’t matter how much I’d loose Christ otherwise, doctrine or on my own, that was back home again every time, like a big embrace and hug (pure assurance and reassurance in otherwise tumultuous things going on inwardly and outwardly). And it has always given the effect of “HOME above all else”, ARRIVED from the storm, home that cannot be destroyed ever, “here you are loved no matter what”, this house/home will never fail nor be destroyed, this love is utterly sure and a sense of family among folks I otherwise may barely know.

    Often we are “implored” to “not miss church” and a lot of times it was a more legal, “you ought/better not miss!”, whether of the one stating it to us or by our own minds. And so a lot of times my motivation would be mixed on that and be more legal like “you better not miss”. But when I knew the Lord’s Supper was being given, again in every single denomination I’ve been in, it was never legal. It was like a joyful, “I cannot miss this…I WANT to go, everything else must stop”. One actually inclined and desired to go, not with a prod from behind. If it was quarterly, in one group, that was really the time one wanted to go. When it was monthly, in another church situation, THAT was the time, etc…

    I have a theory on this, and this is not argumentative but encouraging. We’ve all seen it, around communion time the number of folks that show up to church nearly always goes up, especially around Christmas and Easter. I think that’s when the Gospel is the purest by default and it draws people in what might be otherwise bad preaching situations outside of communion times. And here in communion, again my experience, remains the Gospel in spite of all other things otherwise.

    To step back a bit further, when I was an unbeliever and had left Christianity for atheism/agnosticism, the one single Gospel thing that remained in my mind and memory from my childhood church days was communion. Those words of institution never go away, and the “feel” of the moment and sobriety around the bread and wine. Even during my deepest atheistic days, that was ALWAYS in the background of my mind as if harkening me back.

  • larry

    I truly hope this meets the spirit of this post because that’s my intent.

    I’ve always treasured communion and that includes every point of journey in the three theological traditions I was in (i.e. Baptist, PCA and Lutheran).

    Communion wherever I was has always been the high point of worship for me because I always felt that I was receiving from Christ and Christ. It has always had the effect of being the dearest thing to me. The effect it has had was always based on being given and receiving (even if I was ignorant of theological particulars at the time) forgiveness. That effect is why I always lamented any infrequency it had in any given church situation.

    It’s kind of hard to put into words, the effect. But it’s a plethora of that release and relaxation that forgiveness gives, “everything is going to be alright” (much like the trust one may had when your strong dad calmed your anxiety over something overwhelming to you), a firmness to the otherwise stormy uncertainty of life, and most of all “here is Jesus Christ” tangibly, manifestly, and palpably (and that included when in other traditions – seriously). It didn’t matter how much I’d loose Christ otherwise, doctrine or on my own, that was back home again every time, like a big embrace and hug (pure assurance and reassurance in otherwise tumultuous things going on inwardly and outwardly). And it has always given the effect of “HOME above all else”, ARRIVED from the storm, home that cannot be destroyed ever, “here you are loved no matter what”, this house/home will never fail nor be destroyed, this love is utterly sure and a sense of family among folks I otherwise may barely know.

    Often we are “implored” to “not miss church” and a lot of times it was a more legal, “you ought/better not miss!”, whether of the one stating it to us or by our own minds. And so a lot of times my motivation would be mixed on that and be more legal like “you better not miss”. But when I knew the Lord’s Supper was being given, again in every single denomination I’ve been in, it was never legal. It was like a joyful, “I cannot miss this…I WANT to go, everything else must stop”. One actually inclined and desired to go, not with a prod from behind. If it was quarterly, in one group, that was really the time one wanted to go. When it was monthly, in another church situation, THAT was the time, etc…

    I have a theory on this, and this is not argumentative but encouraging. We’ve all seen it, around communion time the number of folks that show up to church nearly always goes up, especially around Christmas and Easter. I think that’s when the Gospel is the purest by default and it draws people in what might be otherwise bad preaching situations outside of communion times. And here in communion, again my experience, remains the Gospel in spite of all other things otherwise.

    To step back a bit further, when I was an unbeliever and had left Christianity for atheism/agnosticism, the one single Gospel thing that remained in my mind and memory from my childhood church days was communion. Those words of institution never go away, and the “feel” of the moment and sobriety around the bread and wine. Even during my deepest atheistic days, that was ALWAYS in the background of my mind as if harkening me back.

  • David T.

    People searching for a personal relationship with Christ will find it here. It does not get any more personal than this — receiving the true body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

  • David T.

    People searching for a personal relationship with Christ will find it here. It does not get any more personal than this — receiving the true body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

  • mark†

    I am LCMS. The last time I saw my Mom before her death, her priest came to give her Holy Communion. While the priest did not say this, I could not help but think of what the Pastor says after the Lord’s Supper, “The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the true faith to life everlasting. Go in peace. ” I have no doubt she is among the saints in heaven having received the body of her Lord and the forgiveness of her sins.

  • mark†

    I am LCMS. The last time I saw my Mom before her death, her priest came to give her Holy Communion. While the priest did not say this, I could not help but think of what the Pastor says after the Lord’s Supper, “The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the true faith to life everlasting. Go in peace. ” I have no doubt she is among the saints in heaven having received the body of her Lord and the forgiveness of her sins.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Although not Lutheran, I have come to have a greater appreciation for the communion after reading Calvin’s Reformed position on it. And having come to a real place of trusting in the work of Christ on the cross (as opposed to paying lip service about it while still looking to my own works), communion means a lot more than a merely symbolic gesture. It, as Calvin said, is truly spiritual, and should not be relegated to an empty ritual of distant remembrance.

    The whole of the Lord’s supper is a beautiful thing, and when one understands the doctrines of grace properly, whether Lutheran or Calvinist, it becomes much more than just a “thing to do at church.”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Although not Lutheran, I have come to have a greater appreciation for the communion after reading Calvin’s Reformed position on it. And having come to a real place of trusting in the work of Christ on the cross (as opposed to paying lip service about it while still looking to my own works), communion means a lot more than a merely symbolic gesture. It, as Calvin said, is truly spiritual, and should not be relegated to an empty ritual of distant remembrance.

    The whole of the Lord’s supper is a beautiful thing, and when one understands the doctrines of grace properly, whether Lutheran or Calvinist, it becomes much more than just a “thing to do at church.”

  • Richard

    “FOR YOU!” Those two words are so important to me in our Reformed liturgy. They point to the Christ whose body was broken and blood shed FOR me. I need to hear that again and again and to have that confirmed to me as real through wine and bread, especially when my experiences during the week scream the opposite. Thank God that He grows my faith through His work in the Supper.

  • Richard

    “FOR YOU!” Those two words are so important to me in our Reformed liturgy. They point to the Christ whose body was broken and blood shed FOR me. I need to hear that again and again and to have that confirmed to me as real through wine and bread, especially when my experiences during the week scream the opposite. Thank God that He grows my faith through His work in the Supper.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Tonight, our confirmads, receive their first communion. As a relatively new pastor at this congregation, I am excited because this will be the first class of confirmads, I have been with the entire time of their confirmation process. I know not the most pious reasons to be excited, but I am still excited.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Tonight, our confirmads, receive their first communion. As a relatively new pastor at this congregation, I am excited because this will be the first class of confirmads, I have been with the entire time of their confirmation process. I know not the most pious reasons to be excited, but I am still excited.

  • collie

    Richard@7, I love those two words also. We receive the Lord’s Supper at the altar in a semi-circle and after receiving the wine, I can’t help but focus on the pastor saying those words to the person next to me. Really can’t hear it enough.

  • collie

    Richard@7, I love those two words also. We receive the Lord’s Supper at the altar in a semi-circle and after receiving the wine, I can’t help but focus on the pastor saying those words to the person next to me. Really can’t hear it enough.

  • Andrew

    I left the Lutheran tradition to join a UCC congregation in the Reformed (Calvinist) tradition, and I’ve never experienced anyone saying the Sacraments are “not so important.” I’m sorry that’s been your experience with other Christians in the Reformed tradition.

    Like J. Dean above, I’ve gained so much from reading Calvin’s writings on Communion. Communion means more to me today than it ever did before. Celebrating Communion with my religious community has kept me grounded in the faith — it has reminded me that my personal theology, beliefs, and even doubts are not what defines the faith. It is the community with which I gather and the saints with which I celebrate Communion through all time that hold the faith. Communion grounds me and binds me to my God, to my community, and to these Christians of all time and place.

    While I don’t agree with the Lutheran understanding of Communion, I appreciate and respect the central role Communion plays in the Lutheran tradition. It is just as vital to me and my community.

  • Andrew

    I left the Lutheran tradition to join a UCC congregation in the Reformed (Calvinist) tradition, and I’ve never experienced anyone saying the Sacraments are “not so important.” I’m sorry that’s been your experience with other Christians in the Reformed tradition.

    Like J. Dean above, I’ve gained so much from reading Calvin’s writings on Communion. Communion means more to me today than it ever did before. Celebrating Communion with my religious community has kept me grounded in the faith — it has reminded me that my personal theology, beliefs, and even doubts are not what defines the faith. It is the community with which I gather and the saints with which I celebrate Communion through all time that hold the faith. Communion grounds me and binds me to my God, to my community, and to these Christians of all time and place.

    While I don’t agree with the Lutheran understanding of Communion, I appreciate and respect the central role Communion plays in the Lutheran tradition. It is just as vital to me and my community.

  • MHB

    There have been certain times when receiving the Lord’s Supper was, to my mind and heart, more meaningful than others.

    What I find particularly comforting about the Sacrament, though, is that all the other times — when I didn’t feel something special — I was receiving Christ and His forgiveness, too. His Word put the gifts there, and faith received, even if it wasn’t a seemingly great experience. “Awe-full!” … as one of our hymns puts it.

  • MHB

    There have been certain times when receiving the Lord’s Supper was, to my mind and heart, more meaningful than others.

    What I find particularly comforting about the Sacrament, though, is that all the other times — when I didn’t feel something special — I was receiving Christ and His forgiveness, too. His Word put the gifts there, and faith received, even if it wasn’t a seemingly great experience. “Awe-full!” … as one of our hymns puts it.

  • Booklover

    “I come, O Savior, to Thy Table, For weak and weary is my soul;
    Thou, Bread of Life, alone art able To satisfy and make me whole:

    Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood Be for my soul the highest good!”

    That and all 15 verses of Communion hymn #315 is what I remember most, as well as the feeling of community amongst the congregants, be they Republican or Democrat, farmers or refinery workers, as we knelt together in sorrow for our sins to joyfully recieve the Supper.

  • Booklover

    “I come, O Savior, to Thy Table, For weak and weary is my soul;
    Thou, Bread of Life, alone art able To satisfy and make me whole:

    Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood Be for my soul the highest good!”

    That and all 15 verses of Communion hymn #315 is what I remember most, as well as the feeling of community amongst the congregants, be they Republican or Democrat, farmers or refinery workers, as we knelt together in sorrow for our sins to joyfully recieve the Supper.

  • Jerry

    At times when I feel farthest from God, I find him in Communion where he promises to be. Other times when I feel isolated from fellow Christians I find myself united with them in Communion.

  • Jerry

    At times when I feel farthest from God, I find him in Communion where he promises to be. Other times when I feel isolated from fellow Christians I find myself united with them in Communion.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Having been raised LCMS, I have always had a high a high regard for communion. Then in my late twenties, I became an elder with new responsibilities to help administer the sacraments. Seeing people receive the sacrament from the other side of the railing was quite an experience. You could see in their faces the layers of meaning this held for each person.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Having been raised LCMS, I have always had a high a high regard for communion. Then in my late twenties, I became an elder with new responsibilities to help administer the sacraments. Seeing people receive the sacrament from the other side of the railing was quite an experience. You could see in their faces the layers of meaning this held for each person.

  • WisdomLover

    There are a few hymns that we sing where I find my voice inexplicably cracking and my eyes watering. I’m not crying of course, I think the air just becomes very dry when we sing those songs.

    One of them is “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing”. I would guess that most of you who are Lutheran, have sung this song yourself, and you don’t need to read another word…you’re already know what I’m talking about.

    If you haven’t experienced this song, it is an absolutely moving and triumphant celebration of the Power and Love of Our God in the sacraments:

    Where the Paschal blood is poured,
    Death’s dread Angel sheathes his sword.
    Israel’s host triumphant go
    Through the wave that drowns the foe.
    Alleluia!
    .
    .
    .

    Mighty Victim from the sky,
    Hell’s fierce powers beneath you lie;
    You have conquered in the fight
    You have brought us life and light.
    Alleluia!

    Even as I write this and contemplate the meaning of these words, the air in my office has become inexplicably dry, and I again find my eyes watering. Our great enemy death is obliged to bow to his God and ours, whose Body we eat and Blood we drink. Our second great enemy Sin is drowned in the waters of our baptism. Waters which our Savior carries us through in safety. And the One whose burial and blood worked those miracles has also utterly defeated our third great enemy, the Devil, and cancelled all his power over us. And if that weren’t enough He has given us life even though we thoroughly deserve to suffer all the terrors that our three enemies had in store for us.

    For all the lyrics of this treasure go here.

  • WisdomLover

    There are a few hymns that we sing where I find my voice inexplicably cracking and my eyes watering. I’m not crying of course, I think the air just becomes very dry when we sing those songs.

    One of them is “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing”. I would guess that most of you who are Lutheran, have sung this song yourself, and you don’t need to read another word…you’re already know what I’m talking about.

    If you haven’t experienced this song, it is an absolutely moving and triumphant celebration of the Power and Love of Our God in the sacraments:

    Where the Paschal blood is poured,
    Death’s dread Angel sheathes his sword.
    Israel’s host triumphant go
    Through the wave that drowns the foe.
    Alleluia!
    .
    .
    .

    Mighty Victim from the sky,
    Hell’s fierce powers beneath you lie;
    You have conquered in the fight
    You have brought us life and light.
    Alleluia!

    Even as I write this and contemplate the meaning of these words, the air in my office has become inexplicably dry, and I again find my eyes watering. Our great enemy death is obliged to bow to his God and ours, whose Body we eat and Blood we drink. Our second great enemy Sin is drowned in the waters of our baptism. Waters which our Savior carries us through in safety. And the One whose burial and blood worked those miracles has also utterly defeated our third great enemy, the Devil, and cancelled all his power over us. And if that weren’t enough He has given us life even though we thoroughly deserve to suffer all the terrors that our three enemies had in store for us.

    For all the lyrics of this treasure go here.

  • http://blodskald.wordpress.com/blog Colin

    I have grown in my understanding of the Lord’s Supper over the years, beginning with the first PHC Distance Learning Theology class and extending through reading your Spirituality of the Cross, reading the Westminster Confession, experiencing weekly Communion for the first time at the OPC of which I am now a member, participating in the Maundy Thursday service at St. Peter’s Episcopal, and recently reading Benedict XVI’s God is Near Us. Its significance to me may perhaps be measured in the number of times it has appeared in my school assignments…I can think of three instances in the last year, two of which you have read. :-)

    For one, it is humbling to meet Christ weekly at His table. That He should deign to serve us in the sacraments, and that He should make us worthy, puts all our distractions and sins of the week in perspective. They are profoundly both violations and forgiven. The cup is therefore both sweet and sharp, like the bitter cup that Christ drank: “Love in that liquour sweet and most divine,
    Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.”

    And Christ loved us even while we were yet sinners, and the Supper reminds us that He does not leave us sinners, but makes us into saints who will sit with Him and judge angels. Part of the process of making us saints is the sacrament. As Flannery O’Connor said, “I don’t keep the commandments so I can take the sacraments. The sacraments help me to keep the commandments.”

    To hold the Lord in one’s hand, like Mary and Simeon once did, to be fed by His flesh and blood, to taste the promise of redemption, is to know redemption as not just a subjective assurance, but as couched in objective realities.

    This Reformed brother, at least, doesn’t think them unimportant. Call me catholic, but Miss O’Connor again said it best: “It is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.” There is more to that quote, but it’s a bit more polemical than appropriate here.

    In any case, it is in the Lord’s Supper that the Word-made-flesh meets us and seals to us all that He has already accomplished, feeding both our bodies and our souls. As St. Augustine wrote, “I am the bread of the strong. Eat me, but you will not transform me into yourself: I will transform you into Me.”

  • http://blodskald.wordpress.com/blog Colin

    I have grown in my understanding of the Lord’s Supper over the years, beginning with the first PHC Distance Learning Theology class and extending through reading your Spirituality of the Cross, reading the Westminster Confession, experiencing weekly Communion for the first time at the OPC of which I am now a member, participating in the Maundy Thursday service at St. Peter’s Episcopal, and recently reading Benedict XVI’s God is Near Us. Its significance to me may perhaps be measured in the number of times it has appeared in my school assignments…I can think of three instances in the last year, two of which you have read. :-)

    For one, it is humbling to meet Christ weekly at His table. That He should deign to serve us in the sacraments, and that He should make us worthy, puts all our distractions and sins of the week in perspective. They are profoundly both violations and forgiven. The cup is therefore both sweet and sharp, like the bitter cup that Christ drank: “Love in that liquour sweet and most divine,
    Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.”

    And Christ loved us even while we were yet sinners, and the Supper reminds us that He does not leave us sinners, but makes us into saints who will sit with Him and judge angels. Part of the process of making us saints is the sacrament. As Flannery O’Connor said, “I don’t keep the commandments so I can take the sacraments. The sacraments help me to keep the commandments.”

    To hold the Lord in one’s hand, like Mary and Simeon once did, to be fed by His flesh and blood, to taste the promise of redemption, is to know redemption as not just a subjective assurance, but as couched in objective realities.

    This Reformed brother, at least, doesn’t think them unimportant. Call me catholic, but Miss O’Connor again said it best: “It is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.” There is more to that quote, but it’s a bit more polemical than appropriate here.

    In any case, it is in the Lord’s Supper that the Word-made-flesh meets us and seals to us all that He has already accomplished, feeding both our bodies and our souls. As St. Augustine wrote, “I am the bread of the strong. Eat me, but you will not transform me into yourself: I will transform you into Me.”

  • Porcell

    I look forward to tomorrow evening in our Congregational church to receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion whence the bread and wine suffused with the Holy Spirit sent by Christ fills our body and soul.

  • Porcell

    I look forward to tomorrow evening in our Congregational church to receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion whence the bread and wine suffused with the Holy Spirit sent by Christ fills our body and soul.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    The Supper is awesome.

    Even when I don’t feel saved…because of the Lord’s Supper (and also my Baptism)…I KNOW that I am saved. Because the Lord’s promises, indeed His very self, is right there in them…for ME.

    What a blessing! To have this assurance fom God, apart from anything that I do, say, feel, or think!

    What a blessing!

    Thanks.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    The Supper is awesome.

    Even when I don’t feel saved…because of the Lord’s Supper (and also my Baptism)…I KNOW that I am saved. Because the Lord’s promises, indeed His very self, is right there in them…for ME.

    What a blessing! To have this assurance fom God, apart from anything that I do, say, feel, or think!

    What a blessing!

    Thanks.

  • Craig

    As a Baptist I never put much thought into the cracker flake and grape juice monthly routine. Then when I became a Calvinist I tried to ascend to Christ but I never felt as though I left myself and climbed the ladder up to His Throne (probably because I am too much of a sinner). Now that I am Lutheran every Sunday and sometimes mid week when the Lord’s Supper is given I am overwhelmed with the FACT that Christ has come down to me in my weakness and sin. He faithfully gets off His Throne and descends to me, my family and the entire Church, in fact he descends to the Church wherever she may be found on this earth. I am personally affected every time I receive the meal and the hear the words This IS The Body, The Blood For You for the Forgiveness of All Your Sins. I have peace now that my personal theology plays no part in this but rather the pure Words to Christ given to me. I receive the Fathers gift of the very Body and Blood of His Son united in Spirit for my forgiveness. After three years of being Lutheran I still cry when this Sacrament is set before me. I don’t know if that will ever change but I guess it does not matter because He will always be there For Me even if I emotionally experience it or not. Thank you Dr Veith for the Spirituality of the Cross! That was the book that pushed over the edge to finally join an LCMS Church and become a confessing Lutheran.

  • Craig

    As a Baptist I never put much thought into the cracker flake and grape juice monthly routine. Then when I became a Calvinist I tried to ascend to Christ but I never felt as though I left myself and climbed the ladder up to His Throne (probably because I am too much of a sinner). Now that I am Lutheran every Sunday and sometimes mid week when the Lord’s Supper is given I am overwhelmed with the FACT that Christ has come down to me in my weakness and sin. He faithfully gets off His Throne and descends to me, my family and the entire Church, in fact he descends to the Church wherever she may be found on this earth. I am personally affected every time I receive the meal and the hear the words This IS The Body, The Blood For You for the Forgiveness of All Your Sins. I have peace now that my personal theology plays no part in this but rather the pure Words to Christ given to me. I receive the Fathers gift of the very Body and Blood of His Son united in Spirit for my forgiveness. After three years of being Lutheran I still cry when this Sacrament is set before me. I don’t know if that will ever change but I guess it does not matter because He will always be there For Me even if I emotionally experience it or not. Thank you Dr Veith for the Spirituality of the Cross! That was the book that pushed over the edge to finally join an LCMS Church and become a confessing Lutheran.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I love bringing the Lord’s Supper to our Shut-ins and those in the hospital – witnessing and participating in Christ’s true Communion with His people where through such humble means and out of the way places, the Lord Almighty brings a real communion and the love of Christ in His visitation to brothers and sisters who are in many ways seperated from one another, but in Christ, still one loaf.

    Pretty mind-blowing usually!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I love bringing the Lord’s Supper to our Shut-ins and those in the hospital – witnessing and participating in Christ’s true Communion with His people where through such humble means and out of the way places, the Lord Almighty brings a real communion and the love of Christ in His visitation to brothers and sisters who are in many ways seperated from one another, but in Christ, still one loaf.

    Pretty mind-blowing usually!

  • http://originalsoapbox.wordpress.com/ Peter S.

    Like my friend Colin, above, I came from a Reformed background. I grew up in a church that had adopted Reformed theology in most areas but hadn’t quite figured out its position on the sacraments; as a result they received little emphasis and I absorbed from other sources some Zwinglian prejudice against signs and substances. College offered an opportunity to observe different churches; I attended Ash Wednesday at Pastor Sound’s church and Holy Week at Fr. Tom’s church, where I now attend.

    Your Spirituality of the Cross was the catalyst for gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the sacraments as a way in which God communicates his grace to us. John Calvin, also, helped me to understand why people who are spiritually alive still need the physical means of grace.

    And indeed, that the risen Lord is present in Baptism and the Eucharist has helped my faith to grow. Taking the sacraments more seriously meant, for me, that I had to truly forgive other Christians for things they had done to me or to others. Sacramental liturgy also serves as a weekly reminder of Christ and his work, the central truth of Christianity. Calvin says that the spiritual grace of the sacraments is accessed by faith responding to the Word; the reading, preaching, and eating are all part of this practice of faith.

  • http://originalsoapbox.wordpress.com/ Peter S.

    Like my friend Colin, above, I came from a Reformed background. I grew up in a church that had adopted Reformed theology in most areas but hadn’t quite figured out its position on the sacraments; as a result they received little emphasis and I absorbed from other sources some Zwinglian prejudice against signs and substances. College offered an opportunity to observe different churches; I attended Ash Wednesday at Pastor Sound’s church and Holy Week at Fr. Tom’s church, where I now attend.

    Your Spirituality of the Cross was the catalyst for gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the sacraments as a way in which God communicates his grace to us. John Calvin, also, helped me to understand why people who are spiritually alive still need the physical means of grace.

    And indeed, that the risen Lord is present in Baptism and the Eucharist has helped my faith to grow. Taking the sacraments more seriously meant, for me, that I had to truly forgive other Christians for things they had done to me or to others. Sacramental liturgy also serves as a weekly reminder of Christ and his work, the central truth of Christianity. Calvin says that the spiritual grace of the sacraments is accessed by faith responding to the Word; the reading, preaching, and eating are all part of this practice of faith.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Hmm.. Well to me, Holy Communion had the most impact on me when I decided to quit taking it until such a time as when I can take it in a church that believes that is more than just a Happy Meal by which to think good thoughts. Still waiting, by the way.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Hmm.. Well to me, Holy Communion had the most impact on me when I decided to quit taking it until such a time as when I can take it in a church that believes that is more than just a Happy Meal by which to think good thoughts. Still waiting, by the way.

  • Porcell

    Too bad that some on this excellent thread are using it to bash Calvin’s Reformed view of Holy communion that regarded the bread and wine as a holy sacrament through the Holy Spirit as real communion with Christ.

    I shall take communion tomorrow evening at a conservative Congregational church knowing that is very real from our Lord through the Holy Spirit.

  • Porcell

    Too bad that some on this excellent thread are using it to bash Calvin’s Reformed view of Holy communion that regarded the bread and wine as a holy sacrament through the Holy Spirit as real communion with Christ.

    I shall take communion tomorrow evening at a conservative Congregational church knowing that is very real from our Lord through the Holy Spirit.

  • Ubermensch

    Last year, on Maundy Thursday, I was with a family in the Hospital. We were coming to terms with the fact that a young girl had died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage. As I left the hospital at 7 pm, I came back to our parish and my only hope was that service was not over, that I had not missed communion. Because I needed to know that Jesus was still with us. That in the midst of tragedy, there was someplace I could go and be in the presence of God.

  • Ubermensch

    Last year, on Maundy Thursday, I was with a family in the Hospital. We were coming to terms with the fact that a young girl had died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage. As I left the hospital at 7 pm, I came back to our parish and my only hope was that service was not over, that I had not missed communion. Because I needed to know that Jesus was still with us. That in the midst of tragedy, there was someplace I could go and be in the presence of God.

  • SKPeterson

    I like the essential timelessness or atemporal aspect of the Eucharist. Through it I’m connected through Christ to the whole body of believers – the Church, past, present and future – as the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill are gathered into one in Him.

  • SKPeterson

    I like the essential timelessness or atemporal aspect of the Eucharist. Through it I’m connected through Christ to the whole body of believers – the Church, past, present and future – as the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill are gathered into one in Him.

  • Rev. Bob

    My most memorable experience with the Lord’s Supper was a time when I barred myself from the table (rather presumptuously) for the wrong reasons. I was in high school and had, by all accounts, a pretty sinful week. As I went to church that morning, I decided I did not deserve to go up and receive the body and blood of my Lord. My father was the pastor, but we had a rather large sanctuary and we typically sat towards to the back, so I figured no one would notice that the PK wasn’t going forward. I failed to take my mom into consideration. As the usher came to our row to let us know it was our turn, I stayed seated. My mom looked at me with confusion and frustration and fear. She grabbed my arm, and I said no. I stayed seated. She was clearly upset with me for the rest of the service. Not because she was embarrassed, mind you, but because she was upset with my actions.

    I hadn’t finished closing the car door to drive home before she began the questions. “What was that all about? Why didn’t you go? What is your problem?” I responded, “I just didn’t feel worthy this week. I am too sinful.” And, as if Dr. Luther spoke from the catechism himself, my mom said, “Too sinful? What do you think the sacrament is for? It was today that you should have especially gone forward! Jesus is there to forgive!” I was so caught up in my own sinfulness that I had closed my ears to the promises of Christ himself. (My father had a very similar conversation with me that day. Mom just got to me first!) After that I could not wait to receive the body and blood of Christ! I could barely wait to be ushered to the altar!

    Few words give me greater comfort than Luther’s in the Large Catechism, “If you are burdened and feel your weakness, go joyfully to the sacrament and let yourself be refreshed, comforted, and strengthened. For if you wait until you are rid of your burden in order to come to the sacrament purely and worthily, you will have to stay away from it forever.”

  • Rev. Bob

    My most memorable experience with the Lord’s Supper was a time when I barred myself from the table (rather presumptuously) for the wrong reasons. I was in high school and had, by all accounts, a pretty sinful week. As I went to church that morning, I decided I did not deserve to go up and receive the body and blood of my Lord. My father was the pastor, but we had a rather large sanctuary and we typically sat towards to the back, so I figured no one would notice that the PK wasn’t going forward. I failed to take my mom into consideration. As the usher came to our row to let us know it was our turn, I stayed seated. My mom looked at me with confusion and frustration and fear. She grabbed my arm, and I said no. I stayed seated. She was clearly upset with me for the rest of the service. Not because she was embarrassed, mind you, but because she was upset with my actions.

    I hadn’t finished closing the car door to drive home before she began the questions. “What was that all about? Why didn’t you go? What is your problem?” I responded, “I just didn’t feel worthy this week. I am too sinful.” And, as if Dr. Luther spoke from the catechism himself, my mom said, “Too sinful? What do you think the sacrament is for? It was today that you should have especially gone forward! Jesus is there to forgive!” I was so caught up in my own sinfulness that I had closed my ears to the promises of Christ himself. (My father had a very similar conversation with me that day. Mom just got to me first!) After that I could not wait to receive the body and blood of Christ! I could barely wait to be ushered to the altar!

    Few words give me greater comfort than Luther’s in the Large Catechism, “If you are burdened and feel your weakness, go joyfully to the sacrament and let yourself be refreshed, comforted, and strengthened. For if you wait until you are rid of your burden in order to come to the sacrament purely and worthily, you will have to stay away from it forever.”

  • Dave Wiist

    I wish everyone could see what we see as pastors as people come up. The tears, the struggles, the joy…There isn’t a time in ministry where the people’s everyday lives are more clearly revealed or peace is more obviously found than at the Lord’s Table.

    I also find it very comforting to be the last to take communion because I see all of my failings, as members come up one after another that I sinned against, neglected, or just found I was completely powerless to help…Blessed forgiveness!

  • Dave Wiist

    I wish everyone could see what we see as pastors as people come up. The tears, the struggles, the joy…There isn’t a time in ministry where the people’s everyday lives are more clearly revealed or peace is more obviously found than at the Lord’s Table.

    I also find it very comforting to be the last to take communion because I see all of my failings, as members come up one after another that I sinned against, neglected, or just found I was completely powerless to help…Blessed forgiveness!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Peter and Colin, I didn’t realize you guys were reading “Spirituality of the Cross.” I’m glad you found it helpful. And to all of you–this thread is a moving testimony that sacramental piety is alive and strong.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Peter and Colin, I didn’t realize you guys were reading “Spirituality of the Cross.” I’m glad you found it helpful. And to all of you–this thread is a moving testimony that sacramental piety is alive and strong.

  • Craig

    Porcell 23
    I must have missed the Reformed bashing on this thread? This is a Lutheran blog and this thread is on the Sacrament of the Altar which is holy ground for Lutherans on a most holy day. Anything less than the real body and blood of our Savoir is not worthy communion 1 Cor 11:27 to us. So please allow us the latitude today to express what this sacrament has meant and means to us who have come through Calvinism to Lutheranism. This is just personal expressions from some who never had peace in our Christian life until a pastor Absolved my sins personally and fed me the true body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of all of my many sins. The piety expressed here runs deep and it is linked to words of life….given and shed for you. As Adam and Eve ate the real fruit of a tree that lead to death so too do we eat the fruit of a tree and the fruit of this tree is body and blood of Christ that brings eternal life. For sinners like me my hope and life is tied to this holy sacrament. This is ladder theology and it is Jesus who lovingly comes down to us in mercy and grace and forgiveness. Young and old, scholar and unlearned, rich and poor, sick and healthy, the wise and the fools are all leveled at this altar and for a brief moment we are all connected and one with the angels and archangels and the all saints (family) who have gone before us are gathered and this marriage feast of the Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world for sins of the world. How awesome indeed!

  • Craig

    Porcell 23
    I must have missed the Reformed bashing on this thread? This is a Lutheran blog and this thread is on the Sacrament of the Altar which is holy ground for Lutherans on a most holy day. Anything less than the real body and blood of our Savoir is not worthy communion 1 Cor 11:27 to us. So please allow us the latitude today to express what this sacrament has meant and means to us who have come through Calvinism to Lutheranism. This is just personal expressions from some who never had peace in our Christian life until a pastor Absolved my sins personally and fed me the true body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of all of my many sins. The piety expressed here runs deep and it is linked to words of life….given and shed for you. As Adam and Eve ate the real fruit of a tree that lead to death so too do we eat the fruit of a tree and the fruit of this tree is body and blood of Christ that brings eternal life. For sinners like me my hope and life is tied to this holy sacrament. This is ladder theology and it is Jesus who lovingly comes down to us in mercy and grace and forgiveness. Young and old, scholar and unlearned, rich and poor, sick and healthy, the wise and the fools are all leveled at this altar and for a brief moment we are all connected and one with the angels and archangels and the all saints (family) who have gone before us are gathered and this marriage feast of the Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world for sins of the world. How awesome indeed!

  • Stephen

    Luke17:15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

    I was in Rajamundry South India in a Lutheran Church on Maundy Thursday in 1988 serving on a ministry team for one memorable Holy Communion. It was at dusk, near the Godavary river. I’m not making any of this up.

    I was standing off to the side playing guitar and singing (I don’t remember what exactly – maybe “One Bread, One Body”) while the sacrament was finishing and the song was concluding. A man came forward to receive the sacrament by himself just as we had finished. He was slight in build, salt and pepper hair, well-dressed in a light blue dress shirt, dark slacks and bare footed. Everyone worships in bare feet as we leave our sandals (called “chapels”) at the door of any holy place or take them off whenever we would pray. The man had his back to me somewhat so I couldn’t see his face

    The pastor, an Indian Lutheran pastor who is still my good friend, held up the wafer and spoke the words of institution in Telegu. The man was alone before him. When he put out his cupped hands to receive it I noticed a tell-tale sign of his affliction and realized why he had waited to come up last to receive the bread and cup. He was a leper. All of his fingers were worn down to the first knuckle, as if they had all been amputated. Stumps.

    He reached for the common cup and then I could see his profile and his sunken features. He looked like a boxer who was all done in. After he had received the elements he began telling my brother, who was assisting, something which seemed extremely important. Our friend the pastor interpreted and the rest of us who had been singing were motioned to come over and hear his testimony.

    That is when I saw his blue eyes. They were as blue as his shirt, unusual for an Indian, and they shined like some kind of Indian precious stone. He told us with a childlike enthusiasm that Jesus had healed him. That is really all I remember, except perhaps that for some reason I want to say that his name was Jonathan. He looked really good. He looked well that is. We visited lots of different situations where people with leprosy were – hospitals and colonies, etc. I saw what people look like when they are sick. But he looked healthy, as if his illness had ceased. That is all I know. It was not uncommon to see people with diseases come last at communion like that, but I think I didn’t suspect it that time because I didn’t catch anything about him at first glance until I saw his hands.

    That was a very special evening for our little team. One of us went missing and when she turned up an hour later she said she had been in a mud hut somewhere watching a mother nurse her child. We watched the sun go down over the dry river bed while men dug down into the sand and drew water out of the ground, hauling it back in buckets at the end of long poles. That Easter I listened to a sermon in Telegu and understood it because I had been there for so long and absorbed enough language.

    I tell my mom to think of the communion of saints and my dad when she goes to communion. We can all think of Indian, Nepali, Chinese, African and South American Christians when you are at the rail. We can think of our Japanese brothers and sisters. No more missionaries are allowed in India or Nepal. It is illegal to prostelytize there or enter those countires as a missionary. When I was there I met wonderful old Lutheran missionaries and they were all retiring. In India, the Christians are vastly outnumbered and mostly among the lower castes. We commune with all of them at the rail.

    I communed with tribal people who had become Lutherans and they made wine from coconut milk. Don’t ask me how. They washed my feet and heated my bath water over an open fire. They live in houses made of mud and straw. Once while in one of these tribal villages I was in a chapel made the same way and the pastor asked me if I knew how they got the mud so smooth and hard. When I said I didn’t know he told me the entire mud chapel was coated in cow dung. I once received the body and blood of our Lord Jesus forgiveing all my sins while standing barefoot in a church made of manure. Jesus Christ is King and Lord of all.

  • Stephen

    Luke17:15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

    I was in Rajamundry South India in a Lutheran Church on Maundy Thursday in 1988 serving on a ministry team for one memorable Holy Communion. It was at dusk, near the Godavary river. I’m not making any of this up.

    I was standing off to the side playing guitar and singing (I don’t remember what exactly – maybe “One Bread, One Body”) while the sacrament was finishing and the song was concluding. A man came forward to receive the sacrament by himself just as we had finished. He was slight in build, salt and pepper hair, well-dressed in a light blue dress shirt, dark slacks and bare footed. Everyone worships in bare feet as we leave our sandals (called “chapels”) at the door of any holy place or take them off whenever we would pray. The man had his back to me somewhat so I couldn’t see his face

    The pastor, an Indian Lutheran pastor who is still my good friend, held up the wafer and spoke the words of institution in Telegu. The man was alone before him. When he put out his cupped hands to receive it I noticed a tell-tale sign of his affliction and realized why he had waited to come up last to receive the bread and cup. He was a leper. All of his fingers were worn down to the first knuckle, as if they had all been amputated. Stumps.

    He reached for the common cup and then I could see his profile and his sunken features. He looked like a boxer who was all done in. After he had received the elements he began telling my brother, who was assisting, something which seemed extremely important. Our friend the pastor interpreted and the rest of us who had been singing were motioned to come over and hear his testimony.

    That is when I saw his blue eyes. They were as blue as his shirt, unusual for an Indian, and they shined like some kind of Indian precious stone. He told us with a childlike enthusiasm that Jesus had healed him. That is really all I remember, except perhaps that for some reason I want to say that his name was Jonathan. He looked really good. He looked well that is. We visited lots of different situations where people with leprosy were – hospitals and colonies, etc. I saw what people look like when they are sick. But he looked healthy, as if his illness had ceased. That is all I know. It was not uncommon to see people with diseases come last at communion like that, but I think I didn’t suspect it that time because I didn’t catch anything about him at first glance until I saw his hands.

    That was a very special evening for our little team. One of us went missing and when she turned up an hour later she said she had been in a mud hut somewhere watching a mother nurse her child. We watched the sun go down over the dry river bed while men dug down into the sand and drew water out of the ground, hauling it back in buckets at the end of long poles. That Easter I listened to a sermon in Telegu and understood it because I had been there for so long and absorbed enough language.

    I tell my mom to think of the communion of saints and my dad when she goes to communion. We can all think of Indian, Nepali, Chinese, African and South American Christians when you are at the rail. We can think of our Japanese brothers and sisters. No more missionaries are allowed in India or Nepal. It is illegal to prostelytize there or enter those countires as a missionary. When I was there I met wonderful old Lutheran missionaries and they were all retiring. In India, the Christians are vastly outnumbered and mostly among the lower castes. We commune with all of them at the rail.

    I communed with tribal people who had become Lutherans and they made wine from coconut milk. Don’t ask me how. They washed my feet and heated my bath water over an open fire. They live in houses made of mud and straw. Once while in one of these tribal villages I was in a chapel made the same way and the pastor asked me if I knew how they got the mud so smooth and hard. When I said I didn’t know he told me the entire mud chapel was coated in cow dung. I once received the body and blood of our Lord Jesus forgiveing all my sins while standing barefoot in a church made of manure. Jesus Christ is King and Lord of all.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “Spirituality of the Cross” is excellent. Pastor gave it to me to read a year ago or so. Really helped me to understand why I wasn’t so enthused any more with the non-denom type churches I’ve been steeped in for many years.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “Spirituality of the Cross” is excellent. Pastor gave it to me to read a year ago or so. Really helped me to understand why I wasn’t so enthused any more with the non-denom type churches I’ve been steeped in for many years.

  • Stephen

    Well, I think I failed ot make the theological connection I wanted to make which was that I think the reconciliation which is there for us is not simply like b-line to heaven, but it really is, for me in those words of the Creed that spell out who I am and who we all are within the story of God. By that I mean that I see Holy Communion as a kind of forgiving embrace of all of us together. The LCMS has as part of its motto “Life Together” and that to me is is precisely a sacramental statement as much as any kind of “doing” statement. It is life that extends into the past and future, past death, beyond oceans and continents and languages and nations. The Body of Christ – reconciliation. What I cannot do for my brothers and sisters in India or Japan or elsewhere, opr what I have done that I can never repair, all the longing and hope and grief and love, it is kept in that Holy Communion and the forgiveness of sins that we all have together eternally.

    After I posted them I was concerned that the stories would be seen as pure sentiment. I suppose that is the danger of sharing what goes on for us. We Lutherans are anxious about it becoming just that – pure emotionalism. It is that, but then it is something deeper too. We sense that, but then how do we say that? New heart movements. Good name for band.

  • Stephen

    Well, I think I failed ot make the theological connection I wanted to make which was that I think the reconciliation which is there for us is not simply like b-line to heaven, but it really is, for me in those words of the Creed that spell out who I am and who we all are within the story of God. By that I mean that I see Holy Communion as a kind of forgiving embrace of all of us together. The LCMS has as part of its motto “Life Together” and that to me is is precisely a sacramental statement as much as any kind of “doing” statement. It is life that extends into the past and future, past death, beyond oceans and continents and languages and nations. The Body of Christ – reconciliation. What I cannot do for my brothers and sisters in India or Japan or elsewhere, opr what I have done that I can never repair, all the longing and hope and grief and love, it is kept in that Holy Communion and the forgiveness of sins that we all have together eternally.

    After I posted them I was concerned that the stories would be seen as pure sentiment. I suppose that is the danger of sharing what goes on for us. We Lutherans are anxious about it becoming just that – pure emotionalism. It is that, but then it is something deeper too. We sense that, but then how do we say that? New heart movements. Good name for band.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    (I am a Southern Baptist pastor.) One of the most meaningful parts of the Lord’s Supper to me is when we read, “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.” 1 Cor 11:25b-26
    This has past (remembrance), present (as often), and future (until he comes) all together in the Lord’s Supper.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry D. Bishop

    (I am a Southern Baptist pastor.) One of the most meaningful parts of the Lord’s Supper to me is when we read, “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.” 1 Cor 11:25b-26
    This has past (remembrance), present (as often), and future (until he comes) all together in the Lord’s Supper.

  • Kelly

    I remember my first time receiving Jesus’ body and blood. I was received into the Lutheran church in May 2004. The anticipation was huge; I could not remember ever really *anticipating* an observance of the Lord’s Supper before then. Before, I’d thought of it as a time to obey Jesus’ command, think about what a great sinner I was, and to try to feel as remorseful as possible as I remembered the cross on a hill far, far away. (I won’t speak to any official church teaching related to this; this is simply what I’d come to understand over the years, rightly or wrongly.) That day in May 2004 was my first joyful, celebratory Supper. To think– the cross coming to me, FOR me. The overwhelming realization that this is what Jesus has always been all about, after all!

  • Kelly

    I remember my first time receiving Jesus’ body and blood. I was received into the Lutheran church in May 2004. The anticipation was huge; I could not remember ever really *anticipating* an observance of the Lord’s Supper before then. Before, I’d thought of it as a time to obey Jesus’ command, think about what a great sinner I was, and to try to feel as remorseful as possible as I remembered the cross on a hill far, far away. (I won’t speak to any official church teaching related to this; this is simply what I’d come to understand over the years, rightly or wrongly.) That day in May 2004 was my first joyful, celebratory Supper. To think– the cross coming to me, FOR me. The overwhelming realization that this is what Jesus has always been all about, after all!

  • Digital

    As I have grown up in faith my connection to communion has grown. At first it was only a representation of what Christ did for me, now it is a Holy connection to Him, a reminder and a moment of submission to His holy will in my life. To me, a person who grew up with grape juice served in a pew…having a common cup at an alter is a holy awesome communion with God that I cherish every time I approach His table.

  • Digital

    As I have grown up in faith my connection to communion has grown. At first it was only a representation of what Christ did for me, now it is a Holy connection to Him, a reminder and a moment of submission to His holy will in my life. To me, a person who grew up with grape juice served in a pew…having a common cup at an alter is a holy awesome communion with God that I cherish every time I approach His table.

  • larry

    The real and true power of the Word really is very clear, especially to the green and new convert. I say this because the Word really descends deeply and plainly.

    In the whole of my history though very early on I attended a denomination and SS up until around 10, I left the faith entirely (unbaptized) for agnosticism/atheism for the bulk of my early adult life (until 32). This for context because I’d had no real doctrinal moorings one way or the other. In spite of my education I was quite ignorant of doctrines in general. In fact upon conversion I didn’t even know “confessions” existed to the point that I didn’t even know there was a such thing as a Bible with commentary written in it. The only thing we ever had around the house was pure Bibles, per se, King James and that’s all I knew where Christianity was recorded. So, upon conversion, that’s all I knew to read and did. Thus, upon conversion I gravitated to my “safe” family denomination. I didn’t know Luther from Calvin, and others in the Reformation other than secular history teachings on the events of the Reformation and how that affected history. They were to me for all intensive purposes historically similar in their position in history as was say Neville Chamberlain and everyone else. So, early on the Scriptures were read “nude” by me, sans ANY backing of commentary or otherwise. I was really just like greenhorn out of the sticks coming into the faith, so far out in atheism and utterly uninvolved in the church, not even as an enemy as an atheist. There are two kinds of atheist, the one’s that war directly with Christianity, and the ones that pretty much give it no more recognition or thought than some story made up by some tribe out in the middle of nowhere. The former combat Christianity, the later really give it no thought whatsoever. I was of the later breed. I wasn’t steeped in it then left, I just left it as if it was nothing at all, hence no real doctrinal background in spite of the smidge of church I attended early on.

    So upon conversion when I read the nude words in Scripture, including on baptism, concerning the Lord’s Supper, I assumed, “it was the real body and blood of Christ”. I took it at face value, the Word really is plain there. And as a green convert and ex-atheist, once you realize God is God, its not hard to understand, “if God is God then what he says is true whether I can grasp “how” or not. Just like, “let there be light”. So too “this is My body and blood…” For a true atheist and ex-atheist there either is wholly a God or none whatsoever, there’s no Zeus god subsumed under the laws of creation (e.g. physics, etc…) that he created. So, the Words in the Scripture were plain to me, I had no background “in my thoughts from doctrines otherwise competing for that, and God is God” to my new conversion. It never once donned on me to think otherwise of the Christ’s Words (same with the baptism passages). I had to be taught out of that later.

    My first introduction that some other ideas out there existed on this was during shocking Christian men’s retreat event. The event included an outdoor “Lord’s Supper”, which I’d looked forward too. We were up on a hill seated in some folding chairs and they were, I thought, preparing the LS. My first “alarm” came when we were all to form a line and go up and pray our sins onto the bread, then they did the normal words of institution. Thinking, naturally, that we’d next eat of it, but that did not happen. The pastor started very animatedly saying, “What do we need to do with sin…” etc… “We need to throw it out in the woods”. The crowd was animatedly going along, I was confused but the gravity of this had yet to hit me. Then pastor took loaf and threw it into the woods for the “buzzards to eat” as they said. You ever have those sickening tragedy stomach moments? Something like you expected a great good and great love and its ripped from right in front of you? That was my reaction, I kept it best I could internal because I was a confused, dazed and scared in what was around me. But I can recall the utter sorrow, grief and distress that, I thought, they had just thrown the body of Christ into the woods. I liken the emotions to a child (as one might imagine) about to embrace their mother after a long period of being away and needing her, then just at the last moment, just before the hug, someone snatches her away. That gets close.

    Well, I didn’t know what to do. My stomach was tied in knots, I was scared to death and almost in tears (something I’m not normally given over too). I asked a couple of the guys I’d kind of built up a quick friendship with over the weekend, “Didn’t something about that bother you?” (trying to keep the real gravity of my thoughts on it subdued). They said matter of fact, “no” and with a curious look on their face to me. So, I had to talk with the pastors over all this, I was ready to walk from the event (in the country) some 50 miles home (my wife had dropped me off), so disturbing it was to me. So a couple of them met with me and explained the above and that, “Why were they throwing the body of Jesus into the woods like that?” I always trusted pastoral authority. I’ll never forget the reply, “…its not really the body of Jesus and we do a lot of things not in the Scriptures (meaning explicitly)”. All that did, at the time, was cause further confusion, but again, I trusted pastoral authority.

    That was the very first time having been in that denomination for about 4 years, that I had ever had introduced to me that something other than what the Scriptures stated, Jesus Himself, on the Lord’s Supper. So, I began to look into it which led me to commentaries, doctrinal statements, teachings, books (things I was somewhat happily ignorant of, at least of the false ones, as green convert).

    That’s why, for me, becoming confessional Lutheran, a denomination I was more ignorant of than any other (you have to appreciate the lack of contact most of us have with Lutheran), ultimately, was a full circle walk. I had come back around, granted rather circuitously, to the same plain reading of Scripture that I had in my none commentary just Scripture bible I had read as a completely ignorant green horn convert at the age of 32.

  • larry

    The real and true power of the Word really is very clear, especially to the green and new convert. I say this because the Word really descends deeply and plainly.

    In the whole of my history though very early on I attended a denomination and SS up until around 10, I left the faith entirely (unbaptized) for agnosticism/atheism for the bulk of my early adult life (until 32). This for context because I’d had no real doctrinal moorings one way or the other. In spite of my education I was quite ignorant of doctrines in general. In fact upon conversion I didn’t even know “confessions” existed to the point that I didn’t even know there was a such thing as a Bible with commentary written in it. The only thing we ever had around the house was pure Bibles, per se, King James and that’s all I knew where Christianity was recorded. So, upon conversion, that’s all I knew to read and did. Thus, upon conversion I gravitated to my “safe” family denomination. I didn’t know Luther from Calvin, and others in the Reformation other than secular history teachings on the events of the Reformation and how that affected history. They were to me for all intensive purposes historically similar in their position in history as was say Neville Chamberlain and everyone else. So, early on the Scriptures were read “nude” by me, sans ANY backing of commentary or otherwise. I was really just like greenhorn out of the sticks coming into the faith, so far out in atheism and utterly uninvolved in the church, not even as an enemy as an atheist. There are two kinds of atheist, the one’s that war directly with Christianity, and the ones that pretty much give it no more recognition or thought than some story made up by some tribe out in the middle of nowhere. The former combat Christianity, the later really give it no thought whatsoever. I was of the later breed. I wasn’t steeped in it then left, I just left it as if it was nothing at all, hence no real doctrinal background in spite of the smidge of church I attended early on.

    So upon conversion when I read the nude words in Scripture, including on baptism, concerning the Lord’s Supper, I assumed, “it was the real body and blood of Christ”. I took it at face value, the Word really is plain there. And as a green convert and ex-atheist, once you realize God is God, its not hard to understand, “if God is God then what he says is true whether I can grasp “how” or not. Just like, “let there be light”. So too “this is My body and blood…” For a true atheist and ex-atheist there either is wholly a God or none whatsoever, there’s no Zeus god subsumed under the laws of creation (e.g. physics, etc…) that he created. So, the Words in the Scripture were plain to me, I had no background “in my thoughts from doctrines otherwise competing for that, and God is God” to my new conversion. It never once donned on me to think otherwise of the Christ’s Words (same with the baptism passages). I had to be taught out of that later.

    My first introduction that some other ideas out there existed on this was during shocking Christian men’s retreat event. The event included an outdoor “Lord’s Supper”, which I’d looked forward too. We were up on a hill seated in some folding chairs and they were, I thought, preparing the LS. My first “alarm” came when we were all to form a line and go up and pray our sins onto the bread, then they did the normal words of institution. Thinking, naturally, that we’d next eat of it, but that did not happen. The pastor started very animatedly saying, “What do we need to do with sin…” etc… “We need to throw it out in the woods”. The crowd was animatedly going along, I was confused but the gravity of this had yet to hit me. Then pastor took loaf and threw it into the woods for the “buzzards to eat” as they said. You ever have those sickening tragedy stomach moments? Something like you expected a great good and great love and its ripped from right in front of you? That was my reaction, I kept it best I could internal because I was a confused, dazed and scared in what was around me. But I can recall the utter sorrow, grief and distress that, I thought, they had just thrown the body of Christ into the woods. I liken the emotions to a child (as one might imagine) about to embrace their mother after a long period of being away and needing her, then just at the last moment, just before the hug, someone snatches her away. That gets close.

    Well, I didn’t know what to do. My stomach was tied in knots, I was scared to death and almost in tears (something I’m not normally given over too). I asked a couple of the guys I’d kind of built up a quick friendship with over the weekend, “Didn’t something about that bother you?” (trying to keep the real gravity of my thoughts on it subdued). They said matter of fact, “no” and with a curious look on their face to me. So, I had to talk with the pastors over all this, I was ready to walk from the event (in the country) some 50 miles home (my wife had dropped me off), so disturbing it was to me. So a couple of them met with me and explained the above and that, “Why were they throwing the body of Jesus into the woods like that?” I always trusted pastoral authority. I’ll never forget the reply, “…its not really the body of Jesus and we do a lot of things not in the Scriptures (meaning explicitly)”. All that did, at the time, was cause further confusion, but again, I trusted pastoral authority.

    That was the very first time having been in that denomination for about 4 years, that I had ever had introduced to me that something other than what the Scriptures stated, Jesus Himself, on the Lord’s Supper. So, I began to look into it which led me to commentaries, doctrinal statements, teachings, books (things I was somewhat happily ignorant of, at least of the false ones, as green convert).

    That’s why, for me, becoming confessional Lutheran, a denomination I was more ignorant of than any other (you have to appreciate the lack of contact most of us have with Lutheran), ultimately, was a full circle walk. I had come back around, granted rather circuitously, to the same plain reading of Scripture that I had in my none commentary just Scripture bible I had read as a completely ignorant green horn convert at the age of 32.

  • DrJoan

    I grew up as a Roman Catholic and then moved to the Episcopal Church where, eventually, both my husband and I found true salvation and new life in Jesus. But at one point we had to leave TEC for theological reasons and moved on to an American Baptist congregation with a godly and talented pastor. He provided me with the opportunity for a truly meaningful and thoughtful Christmas “communion” (he called it the Lord’s Supper) service. In this tiny Baptist sanctuary he set up a communion table and placed the elements on it. He blessed them and then invited us all to come to the table for the communion. It was quiet and contemplative and as unBaptist as I could imagine but it was definitely a sacramental experience of God’s love and the whole Body of Christ.
    My husband says we have Anglican bones and we found ourselves back in the Episcopal Church, committed to be a voice for orthodoxy. We persisted for several years but were finally worn out with lack of respect for the Word and the theology of the Church. After struggles, we both left and found refuge in an LCMS Congregation which took us and held us for the five years it took for us to find our current Anglican congregation. With the LCMS we found a commitment to the integrity of Holy Communion that fed us while we were there. We are now Anglicans (true to our bones!) and have communion weekly to our delight. It has been Communion that has sustained us and drawn us to our current church home. It is Communion, knowing we are a part of the Body of Christ, that continues to sustain us.

  • DrJoan

    I grew up as a Roman Catholic and then moved to the Episcopal Church where, eventually, both my husband and I found true salvation and new life in Jesus. But at one point we had to leave TEC for theological reasons and moved on to an American Baptist congregation with a godly and talented pastor. He provided me with the opportunity for a truly meaningful and thoughtful Christmas “communion” (he called it the Lord’s Supper) service. In this tiny Baptist sanctuary he set up a communion table and placed the elements on it. He blessed them and then invited us all to come to the table for the communion. It was quiet and contemplative and as unBaptist as I could imagine but it was definitely a sacramental experience of God’s love and the whole Body of Christ.
    My husband says we have Anglican bones and we found ourselves back in the Episcopal Church, committed to be a voice for orthodoxy. We persisted for several years but were finally worn out with lack of respect for the Word and the theology of the Church. After struggles, we both left and found refuge in an LCMS Congregation which took us and held us for the five years it took for us to find our current Anglican congregation. With the LCMS we found a commitment to the integrity of Holy Communion that fed us while we were there. We are now Anglicans (true to our bones!) and have communion weekly to our delight. It has been Communion that has sustained us and drawn us to our current church home. It is Communion, knowing we are a part of the Body of Christ, that continues to sustain us.

  • Joanne

    On a night shortly before he was to die, a rabbi brought together his desciples in a rented dining room in a place of business. The room was upstairs and the dinner was catered. There were less than 20 persons present counting the servers. It was a private affair.
    As had happened so often, the disciples were not hearing that the rabbi was on the verge of dying, actualy of being brutally killed. The rabbi, in the course of the supper, initiated an activity that he wanted them to do. He wanted them to eat his body and drink his blood whenever they came together and ate bread and drank wine. He actually gave them bread to eat and wine to drink saying that it was his body and blood, body broken and blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. So, now they all dramatically understood that their beloved rabbi was going to be killed within hours and the rabbi had to hold them back from panic.
    No not really. They must have thought he was speaking figuratively. Poor rabbi, he couldn’t have picked out a duller group of lads. He told them that eating his body and drinking his blood would cause them to remember him and strengthen their membership with each other. One bread, one body, more figurative talk, nothing to panic over, no real mayhem. The rabbi might have said to his boys, “I’m going to stop protecting myself from the evil world tonight, and it will take me and tear my body to shreads and kill me.”
    The disciples weren’t so dull as spoiled by the rabbi’s protection. He protected them right through his own death, he lost not one of his own. They had seen the rabbi exert complete power over man and nature, and some had seem him glorified. They knew that no one could harm him so why should they not think that the rabbi was speaking about “forms of things” when he spoke about his death. He was the Son of God, he could not be killed.
    He had told his disciples that he was going to be sacrificed just like an animal, behold the lamb of God. Was he telling them to eat the sacrifice to obtain the forgiveness of sins it earns and to be one with those who eat the sacrifice with them.
    My experience with communion is one of wide-open communion, with plastic thimbles at a down-home Bapti-methe-costal LC-MS church. Sorry I wrote that long, long essay above, but it’s all for me and my pastors, can you see oneness in community ideas in the essay? Our elders push everyone in the church to communion every Sunday and we have lots of visitors. Our bulletin says, all are welcome. And the things I’ve seen, just like all the stories you hear, I’ve seen them. “What’s this, what do I do with it?” No Lutheran hymns, they don’t like them, and for communion we have Baptist altar call hymns. Help me Jesus. Most of my family is Baptist, that’s how I know what kind of hymns they are, these Lutherans don’t know, they just like the tunes. However, for the past 6 months I’ve been ill with a blood disease and pastor has been bringing communion to us. That is a huge blessing as I do actually hunger for it. It strengthens my faith and all the fringe problems from church are not here to distract me. I love my pastors, they are having success at bringing in the sheaves with tambourines and whose going to argue with that? Still, I’m so frustrated I could spit. Could have something to do with being stuck at home.

  • Joanne

    On a night shortly before he was to die, a rabbi brought together his desciples in a rented dining room in a place of business. The room was upstairs and the dinner was catered. There were less than 20 persons present counting the servers. It was a private affair.
    As had happened so often, the disciples were not hearing that the rabbi was on the verge of dying, actualy of being brutally killed. The rabbi, in the course of the supper, initiated an activity that he wanted them to do. He wanted them to eat his body and drink his blood whenever they came together and ate bread and drank wine. He actually gave them bread to eat and wine to drink saying that it was his body and blood, body broken and blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. So, now they all dramatically understood that their beloved rabbi was going to be killed within hours and the rabbi had to hold them back from panic.
    No not really. They must have thought he was speaking figuratively. Poor rabbi, he couldn’t have picked out a duller group of lads. He told them that eating his body and drinking his blood would cause them to remember him and strengthen their membership with each other. One bread, one body, more figurative talk, nothing to panic over, no real mayhem. The rabbi might have said to his boys, “I’m going to stop protecting myself from the evil world tonight, and it will take me and tear my body to shreads and kill me.”
    The disciples weren’t so dull as spoiled by the rabbi’s protection. He protected them right through his own death, he lost not one of his own. They had seen the rabbi exert complete power over man and nature, and some had seem him glorified. They knew that no one could harm him so why should they not think that the rabbi was speaking about “forms of things” when he spoke about his death. He was the Son of God, he could not be killed.
    He had told his disciples that he was going to be sacrificed just like an animal, behold the lamb of God. Was he telling them to eat the sacrifice to obtain the forgiveness of sins it earns and to be one with those who eat the sacrifice with them.
    My experience with communion is one of wide-open communion, with plastic thimbles at a down-home Bapti-methe-costal LC-MS church. Sorry I wrote that long, long essay above, but it’s all for me and my pastors, can you see oneness in community ideas in the essay? Our elders push everyone in the church to communion every Sunday and we have lots of visitors. Our bulletin says, all are welcome. And the things I’ve seen, just like all the stories you hear, I’ve seen them. “What’s this, what do I do with it?” No Lutheran hymns, they don’t like them, and for communion we have Baptist altar call hymns. Help me Jesus. Most of my family is Baptist, that’s how I know what kind of hymns they are, these Lutherans don’t know, they just like the tunes. However, for the past 6 months I’ve been ill with a blood disease and pastor has been bringing communion to us. That is a huge blessing as I do actually hunger for it. It strengthens my faith and all the fringe problems from church are not here to distract me. I love my pastors, they are having success at bringing in the sheaves with tambourines and whose going to argue with that? Still, I’m so frustrated I could spit. Could have something to do with being stuck at home.


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