Fortification at the Lord's Table
In our ongoing series dealing with the celebration of Holy Communion, this week I want us to consider the role of this Sacrament in the context of the other important aspects of the Christian Faith. Just what role does the Lord’s Supper play?
According to Luther’s Small Catechism it is important we understand something of God’s Law, and we can turn to the Ten Commandments to do so. It is also vitally important to recognize the Gospel, and the Apostles’ Creed summarizes this succinctly. In learning to pray and in finding out how we are to live for our Lord, the Lord’s Prayer faithfully instructs us.
Complementing everything just mentioned, we learn in the Catechism that we are brought to faith and joined to Christ in Baptism. Baptism has implications for the rest of our lives, namely that we continue to die to sin and receive forgiveness as we confess our sins and receive and believe in the promise of forgiveness with Confession and Absolution. And finally, we are nurtured, fortified, and sustained by Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper.
When we gather for the Divine Service on Sunday all these elements just mentioned are in evidence. The Divine Service itself is said to be centered on Word and Sacrament. And as Lutherans we understand God’s Word to speak to us as both law and gospel, that is, as demand and promise. By God’s grace when we hear the law we are brought to repentance, being convicted of our sins and our inability to free ourselves. Then, by God’s grace when we hear the gospel, we grasp hold by believing, the remedy for sin made possible on the Cross and promised to us in the proclamation of the Gospel.
You will also recognize in our gathering the living out of Baptism in the Brief Order of Confession, and many other pleas for mercy. And this finally leads us the nurture and fortification at the Lord’s Table, where we are fed.
Since You Asked…
What is the significance of the Season of Advent?
The Church year begins with Advent, a season of preparation that looks toward both Bethlehem and Christ’s return at the end of the age. Advent is its own Season and the rich symbols and themes should be safeguarded and celebrated without being drowned out by the upcoming celebration of Christmas. The first two Sundays in Advent center on the Parousia (Christ’s Second Coming). The third Sunday in Advent centers on John the Baptist as the herald of Christ. And the fourth Sunday often centers on the Virgin Mary in her exalted role in giving birth to God’s Anointed One.