Sustained in the Lord’s Gift of Forgiveness

This week we continue our discussion of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Last week I mentioned that as a Sacrament Lutherans believe Holy Communion bears a spiritual gift. So this week we will take a look at the benefits of this gift.

In explaining the benefits of Holy Communion Luther writes, “The benefits of this sacrament are pointed out by the words, given and shed for you for the remission of sins. These words assure us that in the sacrament we receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”

So someone might ask, if we receive the forgiveness of sins in Holy Baptism why do we need the forgiveness mediated to us in a meal? The same question could be asked as to why we need to keep asking for forgiveness if our sins were washed away in Baptism. And the answer for both would be the same. It is because we continue to sin.

I like to think of the Baptismal font as the womb of the Church that bestows spiritual birth. In keeping with this maternal image, that would make Holy Communion the Church’s nursing breasts. The point being is that we are both bestowed and nurtured in our life in Christ.

Too often we think of our faith in Christ as some kind of commercial transaction, as though by faith we have purchased a gift that is now ours forever and that it will always be around if we need it. But rather than thinking of faith in static terms, we should view it as a journey. Belief has to start somewhere, but once started, trusting and repenting will be ongoing throughout our earthly pilgrimage. The good news is that God equips and gifts us for this. And Holy Communion is a tangible way we continue to be sustained in the Lord’s gift of forgiveness.

Since You Asked…

What are we observing on “The Sunday of the Passion?

The Sunday of the Passion mixes triumph and tragedy, the palms and the passion, observing Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem as well as looking ahead to his passion and death on the cross.

As the prelude to the Sunday of the Passion  the Procession with Palms provides an appropriate burst of joy which does not lose sight of the solemn goal of Jesus’ triumphal entry. Then as we transition to the events to transpire in the week ahead we will read in its entirety the Passion according to one of the Gospel Accounts. (taken from the Lutheran Planning Calendar, publ. by Augsburg Fortress)