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The Body Of Christ. Amen!


When we moved into our new sanctuary a year and a half ago we made some liturgical changes. Among them was a change in the words of distribution for Holy Communion. We changed from repeating the words of institution (which are said in the consecration) to the formula: the Body of Christ, the Blood of Christ, to which God's people answer "Amen" completing, as it were, the cycle, and expressing their agreement and acceptance of the precious gift given.

The change, which has become standard in LCMS congregations, has this advantage: it doesn't narrow the benefits of the Eucharist to a single focus, "for the forgiveness of sins." But it allows us to focus on the mystery of what we are receiving here: the glorified flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. A sacrament that indeed forgives sin, but is and does much more. 

Holy Communion is exactly what its name implies: it is Communion With The Holy. An encounter with God. When we open our mouths to receive this unspeakable gift, to take Jesus into our bodies, we are giving ourselves over to him altogether, even as he gave himself altogether over for us. We are mixing our mortal bodies with his glorified body. No wonder the Eucharist has been called "the Mysteries" in the church for so long.

While we can't understand, or fully appreciate what we receive here (like the disciples we suffer from spiritual brain fog) we obtain the untold benefits none the less. The purging of our sins, comfort for all our sorrows, strength for all our weakness, endurance for all our trials, mercy for all of our needs, courage for all our battles, rest for all our weariness and peace which surpasses human explanation.

In Holy Communion we eat of tomorrow's Bread today, and partake in the wondrous Marriage Feast of the Lamb, in which Christ is the Groom, and we, the church, are the baptismally cleansed Bride made spotless by his blood shed on the cross. It is here that the Bride expresses her deepest love and union with her Groom, and seeks his blessing for all of her needs.

The benefits and blessings are inexhaustible, and barely comprehensible to us, but none the less when the pastor proclaims: The Body of Christ; the Blood of Christ; the humble worshiper in turn confesses his agreement using the church's contractual word of agreement: Amen! 

Here, by our eating, and our verbal responding, we fulfill the word of Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Can you see, now, why this is such an awe-filled feast? And why there is no other possible response than: Amen! To remain silent at a time like this is to leave your faith unspoken, God's love unrequited.

Change is difficult but God's people must learn to adapt as mature people of faith, while avoiding self pity. And so by this writing I urge all our members to take courage, put timidity aside, and confess aloud with your mouth, what you believe in your heart, that Jesus is Lord.

1 Comment

A reader kindly pointed out that the second last paragraph of this post sounded as if the reply, Amen, is a divine requirement. It is not. None the less it is most appropriate, and recommended. But let no conscience be bound.

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