Thursday, April 1, 2010

Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest

The great and powerful Easter/Sacrament of the Altar hymn, At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing, gives us this powerful description of what Holy Thursday unfolds for Christendom and for all of Christian history:

Praise we Him, whose love divine
Gives His sacred blood for wine,
Gives His body for the feast—
Christ the victim, Christ the priest.

So here we gather, to recall the first Upper Room event when Christ took the familiar bread of the Pesach and told the wide-eyed disciples, "This is My Body" and then the cup, after the supper, "This is My Blood."  It is the miracle moment when the Victim becomes the Priest, the Host becomes the Food.

Draw near and take the body of the Lord,
And drink the holy blood for you outpoured;
Offered was He for greatest and for least,
Himself the victim and Himself the priest.

Another hymnwriter has captured the same paradox, the same wonderful mystery, that He who calls us is He who is our food, His priestly service includes setting His table among us, clothing us with the proper attire for the meal, inviting us up to the higher place we neither deserve nor dare take without His invitation, and then eat what He gives to us, the food of Himself which only faith can discern.

So this Holy Thursday we give thanks for the bright light of this day that shines every Lord's Day in the Lord's House, when the Lord's people, gather around the Lord's Table to receive again and again this blessed feast for our salvation.

Lord, have mercy.

And then it ends in such painful sadness... the appointments that draw attention to this meal are emptied from the chancel until all the ornaments are gone.  In their place a naked altar, a tabernacle door standing open and empty, and a large, simple, wooden cross to remind us what it is that gives this food such power -- the cross was followed the first Supper is key to what we receive in each Supper since -- the Body of Christ crucified... the Blood of Christ out poured...

Lord, have mercy.

1 comment:

Rev. Steve Massey said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I was trying to find the hymn that contains the lyric, himself the victim and himself the priest. We truly have a gracious God.