“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28
As seminary student, I remember discussing the Lord’s Supper with my grandmother, who was already in her late 80’s. The conversation focused on the matter of the frequency of receiving the Sacrament as she had lived through the period when it was offered just four times a year. I spoke with her about yearning for Christ’s body and blood by which my sins were forgiven and faith strengthened. I could not imagine a return to such infrequent reception of Christ’s gifts of Himself in His Holy Supper.
Fast forward to 2020 and the saints of God found themselves unable to receive the Sacrament for quite an extended period. During a time of fear and anxiety, it has been difficult to not be able to receive what St. Ignatius called “the medicine of immortality.” This past Sunday as I returned to the pew after having received the Lord’s Supper, I sang the final verse of one of the distribution hymns and was reminded of the great blessing that we receive in the Sacrament. Hymnwriter Samuel Kinner wrote:
For Your consoling supper, Lord,
Be praised throughout all ages!
Preserve it, for in ev’ry place
The world against it rages.
Grant that this sacrament may be
A blessed comfort unto me
When living and when dying.” (LSB 622, v. 8)
What a blessing it is to receive the comfort that God gives to us in this great mystery. Though we live in a world that rages against the Gospel and Christ’s Church, our Lord brings to us such great consolation under the simple forms of bread and wine as He gives to us His very own body and blood. While our world has been thrown into chaos and confusion, our God gives to us the peace of sins forgiven and paradise restored. As He invites us to come to His table, may we never take this blessed gift for granted. That is one of the greatest lessons that we can take away from 2020. My hope and prayer is that in time, all of the saints of God are able to return to their congregation and to receive the Lord’s Supper for comfort when living and when dying. May you be strengthened by Christ’s body and blood for your faithful service in our Lord’s name.
Prayer – Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood be for my soul the highest good. I thank and praise You for sending me the life-giving body and blood of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Send Your Holy Spirit that, having with my mouth received the holy Sacrament, I may by faith obtain and eternally enjoy Your divine grace, the forgiveness of sins, unity with Christ, and life eternal; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan