ST. STEPHEN’S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Striving to speak God’s saving truth in love. Ephesians 4:15
St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School | Beaver Dam, WI | 920.885.3309
I Corinthians 10:16-17
St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church—Beaver Dam, WI
We want to feel like we belong. This is something all of us desire to find. We join various clubs, organizations, or come together with neighbors to have this sense of belonging. One lesson the previous year has taught us is that isolation is tough. When we have to stay separate from others it easily takes its toll upon a person. We need to belong. We need to be with others. We need fellowship and social interaction to keep our brain function healthy and our own sanity. We need a sense of belonging.
This day of Holy Week reminds us of a special kind of fellowship we have. Before his suffering and death, Jesus wanted to make sure that his disciples know they will always belong.
Be careful! Paul gave this warning from the history of Israel. The Israelites had seen so much of God’s power. They even glimpsed at the glory of God on the holy mountain of Sinai. God handed down his laws for his people to follow. Every year the Israelites celebrated a festival dedicated to a reminder of God’s power and love for his people, the Passover.
Be careful! They still had to remain strong. They could fall. They had to resist temptation. All the other gods had to be eradicated from their presence, so they would not fall. The Israelites did not listen. They forgot about God. They followed other gods. They wanted fellowship and belonging with idols rather than the true God.
God warns us today of the very same thing. With whom are we going to belong? With whom will we join ourselves in a very special union? God gives us a very special meal to show that we belong to him. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 10:16)? In the most blessed supper of Holy Communion God wants to show us that we belong, specifically that we belong with him.
We did not always belong with God. Our sins kept us separate from him. We would separate ourselves from God by following our own idols. We set up money ahead of God. We set up our own honor before God. We worship high society rather than God. We should be thrown out from God’s presence with no thought of any return.
Yet, God tells us that we belong. We belong with him and no other. God forgives us all of our sins against the First Commandment and all the other Commandments. Jesus has taken our acts of disobedience away, so that we might serve him. We belong with God.
In Communion Christ comes to us in his true body and blood. Miraculously Jesus’ body and blood join together with the bread and wine. Christ comes to us in a very special way. He gives himself to us in this sacrament. He forgives our sins. He strengthens our faith.
Is this something that we will take for granted? Is this something that we treat as just ordinary instead of extraordinary? If the answer to these questions is no, why do we so often do the opposite? The Lord’s Supper no longer has the same meaning for us. We simply come and go through the motions. We fail to examine our hearts to see how prone to sin they are. Maybe for some they separate themselves from this meal. They no longer come to church. They will come only once in awhile. They fail to see the great miracle taking place.
Listen to the words Christ says to us. My body given for you. My blood shed for you. In a personal way Christ comes to us in his body and blood to forgive our sins. In this sacred meal Christ comes to strengthen our faith. Christ loves me so much that he gave himself for me. As we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.
Through this meal Christ shows us that we belong. We belong with him because of all the things Jesus has done for me. He has taken away my sin. He strengthens my faith. He comes to me with his true body and blood to show that I belong with him.
We come to partake of this meal as often as we can. We can never receive it enough. I am Christ’s. He is my Savior. We belong with him because of his love toward the world. In this supper we also see that we belong with our fellow believers.
Christians enjoy a special bond with each other. Often throughout the pages of the Bible God describes the church as a body. It is made up of many parts, yet they all form one body. Christ Jesus is the head.
In communion God not only comes to us, but we express our unity with one another. “Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (I Corinthians 10:17). We belong with our fellow believers as we come to partake of Jesus’ body and blood.
We might not always think of this union with our fellow believers. We concentrate so much on ourselves. We come up in reverence to receive Christ’s body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine. All of this is true. At the same time we also rejoice in the unity with our fellow believers. We are one. We belong with each other joined by a common faith in our Lord and Savior.
This is true of the whole Church around the world. All the members of the invisible church, all believers of all time, join themselves together around this meal. We confess that we belong to this church as we come to eat and drink.
This is a great joy that we have in our life. We belong. We are not alone in this world. We belong with our fellow believers. This is why we practice “close communion”. Christ wants nothing to break the unity found in communion. For this reason Jesus demands 100% agreement on all the teachings found in Scripture. We do not do this to pass judgment toward others. We do not do this to be exclusive. We do this to protect the unity we have with one another. We do not want anything to break the union we enjoy in communion.
We belong. God makes us worthy to partake of his Supper by what he did for us. He cleansed us from our sins. He makes us worthy to partake of his Holy Supper. We belong with our brothers and sisters in the faith as we enjoy a special union with Jesus. Communion shows our oneness with the Holy Christian Church. We Belong! Amen.