Monday, June 21, 2010

Christ have Mercy/ Lord's Supper 2

Over the weekend, I've realized another thing or two about the Lord's Supper.  This strong emphasis as the church as one loaf, one body that cares for all members, as elaborated upon in the last post, we do not find in the Catechisms.  They stress what a sacrament is, the "pro me" of faith, and the real presence.  The entire book of  Concord is to a large degree dealing with controverted articles with the result that some of the obvious, basic things, are not discussed in it.   Maybe love is dealt with in conjunction with the supper somewhere, but I haven't found it, yet, (not knowing the BOC backward and forward like some). 

When Paul writes about the supper in 1. Corinthians 10 and 11, he makes a strong connection of the supper to the church as the body of Christ.  First he talks about the supper, the wrong use, the words of institution, discerning the body, followed right after with the church as Christ's body with many parts and then going right into the love chapter, the most excellent way.

So we have it all right there together:  forgiveness, faith, the body, the body of Christ and love.  It can't be split up.

When Paul says:  "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment upon himself." (11:29), he is speaking about the ONE body of the Lord, he being the head.

I used to wonder, when I read this, which body is he talking about???  Is he talking about the body and blood of Christ in the elements or is he talking about the fellowship of the church?  I have sometimes heard people pitting these against each other.  Now, I realize, it is the same thing.  Through the supper we are incorporated into Him, together with the rest of the Saints, through faith.  This is his real body.  He is in us and we in him, and all of us together.

And this body is a body of love, sharing its various gifts.  Everything we read in the last post is true, even if it is not in the catechism.

"But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lack it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;  if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."  (1. Cor. 12:24,25). 

And as we read before:
"Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread that we break a participation int he body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."  (1. Cor. 10: 16,17)

Through the blood of Christ we are one body, both very real.  Hence the admonition to give reverence to the body.

When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else.  One remains hungry, another gets drunk.  Don't you have homes to eat and drink in?   Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?"  (1 Cor. 11: 20,21)

When you do not consider the fellowship, you are not having the Lord's Supper.

As an aside and a consequence, it occurs to me that this also argues completely against the idea of "virtual communion" as proposed by some on the internet.  Yes, we can have an amazing fellowship on-line, but it's not the same thing--because we don't live together and cannot do things for each other, share the cup, participate.

We can learn a lot about Christ, read, talk, even pray long distance, but we cannot live together and commune together.  You need to share the prerequisite physical elements:  bread, wine, your local fellowship which lives on faith, love and forgiveness.

Maybe I'm side-tracked, maybe not.

It makes me also think about how this manifests itself in our congregations.  Sometimes, we live so far apart and have so little to do with each other that this is more theoretical than real.  Here all the new kinds of communications media can help. 

It is easy to stay in touch but also to be out of touch, and the elderly generally have no computer, etc. (which is probably also good and bad).  When you are actually with someone they are often distracted by their i-phones and gadgets.  Is anyone actually listening to anybody?  When you want to leave someone a Facebook message, you don't know how often they check their messages.  If they did not reply, the message might have got buried in their many messages, or maybe they are ignoring you.  There is a lot of vagueness in the communication and guessing, these days.

People talk about churches with lots of small groups and whether that's a good thing or not, or a necessary thing or not.  Small groups are places where people can learn together, get to know each other, become friends and care for each other.  I have no problems with them.

What surprised me coming into my first LCC church was that people did not invite each other to dinner in each other's homes, that they did not go to the lake together, share cabins, plan retreats, have devotions, plan devotions, sing, like I was used to in my previous (independent Luth.) church.  I think now that that has something to do with the family I married into.  But even so, I think more could be shared, easily.

Still in the church we find the love and acceptance of Christ and each other.  This is in his blood.   It is the hugest blessing.

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