Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Salvation has come to your house...
I grew up in a time when the Lord's Supper was customarily offered quarterly (that is, once every three months). It was a solemn and somber occasion. By the time I was confirmed the frequency has increased dramatically to monthly. But whether monthly or quarterly, there were those in the pews who ducked out before the Sacrament or who sat in the pews and did not commune. I was told that some folks had not fully prepared or perhaps did not feel the need to commune on that day (and would therefore wait another three months for the opportunity). When I returned home from college with a distinctly different view of the Sacrament, I thought it would be good to have Holy Communion on Easter Sunday. My father's aunt, who rode with us to church each Sunday, exclaimed "how depressing." Apparently nothing can diminish Easter joy as quick as feasting upon the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Thankfully even my home congregation has increased the frequency of the Sacrament more and some of that old piety has greatly diminished. Yet it is still true that we do not realize what great gift and blessing there is to us in this Sacrament. For too many Lutherans, the Sacrament is an add-on to the service and not an essential part of who we are and what happens among us on Sunday morning. For too many others, the Sacrament is received more frequently but with less thoughtful preparation and less realization of what exactly it is that we are receiving.
Salvation has come to our house.... those words once spoken to Zacchaeus are literally fulfilled among us everytime we gather in around the Table of the Lord. Where the flesh and blood of Christ are, there is forgiveness, there is life, and there is salvation. We do not offer the Sacrament weekly for any other reason than by this blessed communion "Salvation comes to us..." When speaking of the movement to a weekly Eucharist (a restoration and not something that should be new to Lutherans), I recall how one retired Lutheran Pastor suggested that my people might be more sinful than the people of his last parish and therefore more in need. Ahhhh, what foolishness.
We do not come to the table of the Lord because guilt drives us there but because Christ is there. It is not a dreadful call that beckons us but the call of grace, of unmeritted favor, and of mercy lavish and generous beyond imagination. We are called and beckoned to the Table because Christ is there and where He is, there are the gifts won by His suffering and death. We come because "Salvation comes to us there.."
Would that we know this and respond to this with such holy joy as once Zacchaeus knew so long ago.