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Month: May 2020

Experiencing Communion when Apart

Experiencing Communion when Apart

As Lutherans, the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion (sometimes called the Means of grace) are an important part of how we experience God’s grace and presence in our lives.

During this time of pandemic and social distancing, we have not been able to experience the presence of Christ in Holy Communion as we did weekly during our normal Sunday Worship.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read through this section from Martin Luther’s Small catechism that reminds us of just what Holy Communion means to us.

What is the sacrament of Holy Communion?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

Where is this written?

The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write this:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.

After supper, in the same manner, He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Take, drink, all of you. This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you and all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this, often, in remembrance of Me.

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

That is shown us in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely: Given, and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins. Which words are, besides the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and anyone that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.

But any that does not believe these words or doubts is unworthy and unfit; for the words For you require altogether believing hearts.

In light of this as Lutherans, we believe that Christ is really and fully present in Holy Communion, that we receive grace and forgiveness when we partake, and we receive all this through faith.

In the spirit of receiving Holy Communion and receiving all its benefits through Faith. I would like to share with you the practice of Spiritual Communion. It is essentially a prayer asking for Christ’s presence. It is a Roman Catholic practice that I think fits our Lutheran understanding of the sacraments. It is not meant to replace Holy Communion but strengthen our desire for Christ and sustain us until we can receive the sacrament again. Spiritual Communion is a prayer that acknowledges Christ’s real and full presence in Holy Communion and reminds us that we can receive that same grace and forgiveness we receive in the Bread and the Wine during worship. Some of you may find this particular practice hard to wrap your mind around. In that case, it may not be for you and that is ok.

The means of grace are concrete ways for us to know God’s grace and forgiveness. Spiritual Communion is one way to receive this free gift of grace in the absence of our ability to assemble and receive Holy Communion in worship.

The purpose of Holy Communion is for Christ to show and reveal his presence in our lives. Christ promises to be with us in the Sacraments and also when pray for his presence.

So how do you practice Spiritual Communion?

Find a quiet place. Think about what it means for Christ to be present in your life. Think about what it means to receive Christ in Holy Communion. Think about Christ being present with you.

Then use this pray

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Communion.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

 It can be prayed in the midst of your daily work, lifting up your thoughts to God.

The ultimate goal of our lives should be communion with God and an act of spiritual communion can help a person draw closer to that goal.

Grace and Peace.

How Long oh Lord?

How Long oh Lord?

Psalm 13

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies
To the leader. A Psalm of David.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain[a] in my soul,
    and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

As the weeks go on with COVID-19 and the many ways it has halted and altered the world around us. I wonder myself, “How long, O Lord? Have you forgotten me?” I wonder how long it will be before we have in person worship again. Or how long it will be before we can all receive communion together.

I also wonder as I look out at the world. We have seen extraordinary kindness but as things continue, I am starting to notice and dwell on the bad. The bullying, the name calling, the injustice, the poor, the hungry. It is overwhelming.

This Psalm has only 6 verses. The first 4 verses linger in the sense of little hope and comfort. It is ok to voice and be in that space. It is never good to avoid pain, loneliness and sorrow. Maybe need to to just sit with those things for awhile. 

However, we cling to hope we find in God. We don’t have dwell in the land of sorrow or defeat. We can cling to the promises we find in Jesus. That He is the way, the truth and the life.