Under the Cross: The Sophia Worthy of Reception

By George F. Borghardt

Editor's Note: We celebrate Sophia Borghardt's 18th birthday today, which is why we are revisiting this heartfelt article from the fall 2016 issue of Higher Things Magazine.  

My daughter's Sophia's name means "wisdom." She's more precious to us than rubies! (Proverbs 8:11) She has taught me more about being a pastor than any theology book or seminary class. Her whole life flows from God. She literally can't make it on her own. She lives and grows completely and totally from the God who gives gifts to her.

In her conception, she received as a gift from the Lord one of the rarest genetic disorders in the world (partial trisomy 9q, partial monosomy 21q). This means that the bottom of the ninth chromosome was copied and attached itself to the bottom of the 21st chromosome, and some of the 21st chromosome was deleted. . .in every cell in her body. She was baptized just after her birth with the Lord's Name and three squirts of a syringe.

She spent nearly a quarter of her first year in the hospital, winning every lottery she could--every test was a 1:1,000,000 chance or "probably not this but we are going to test for it just in case," she won that one, too. What can I say? She's just a winner.

The experts said she wouldn't ever be anything other than "a bump on a log" and that she wouldn't live more than a year. But she just kept receiving the gift of life from God. She wanted to play with her brothers, so she learned to roll. She rolled everywhere! Then she noticed that everyone else was walking, so she learned first to army crawl and then to walk. It was such a big deal--even when she was seven years old--that she could walk. Not bad for my little "Bump on a Log!"

Now, my Little Bump on a Log has turned 14 and what about her partaking of the Lord's Supper like the other kids her age? Surely the Bread of Life is for her, too! The world's wisdom says, "No." She can't talk. She's delayed in many ways. She can't communicate like you and I can. She makes hand signs and uses an iPad. How can she have the Lord's Supper when she can't even go through confirmation class?

The Small Catechism says, "Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: 'Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.' But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words 'for you' require all hearts to believe."

Faith! Faith makes even a Bump on a Log worthy and well prepared for the Sacrament--faith in the words, "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." Whoever has faith in those words, and believes that Jesus lived and died for them, and that He comes to them in the Body and Blood of the Lord's Supper receives exactly what the Lord says: the forgiveness of sins.

The world's wisdom is completely wrong! It would have you look inside yourself to see how prepared you are, how much theology you know, or how you feel about God to determine if you are worthy of God's grace and care. Get your life together and then God's gifts will be for you. Stop sinning so you can come to the Lord's Supper.

The world's wisdom is so wrong that following it is what would actually make you unprepared for the Sacrament! Reject Jesus, choose your sins over Him, and you truly aren't worthy. Doubt these words, don't believe them, go with what you think or feel or do, and Jesus' Supper isn't a gift to you anymore. It's deadly poison for your soul.

So, Sophia stood before her pastors and was asked the questions that everyone is asked at their confirmation. She answered "Yes" by raising both of her hands over her head. That's the way she says "Yes," like a referee signaling a touchdown. "Do you renounce the devil and all His ways?" Touchdown. "Do you believe in God the Father Almighty?" Touchdown. "Do you believe in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. . ." Touchdown. "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?" Touchdown.

And so, she confessed her faith--faith that receives both good and bad from Jesus. Faith that trusts the Word of God in the water to deliver the Cross to her. Faith which believes that the Absolution spoken by her pastor is just as valid and certain even in heaven as if Christ her Lord had forgiven her Himself. Faith that believes Jesus' words, "This is My Body," means "This is my Body," and "This is My Blood really means, "This is my Blood."

Her pastor has tried to teach her about the Sacrament since she was a baby. I would get on my knee and hold the host up to her face and say, "Sophia, this is the Body of Christ." I would
hold the cup up and say, "This is the Blood of Christ." She would simply respond with her sign for "Please," which is to rub one hand across her stomach.

And so on this day, after her great confession, the pastor held the Body and Blood of Christ to Sophia's mouth and said, "Take, eat, the Body of Christ. . .Take, drink, the Blood of Christ." No touchdown this time. No please. This time, she turned around and touched a certain button on her iPad. "Amen," it said. Gift received. That's faith!

Maybe my little Bump on a Log has some Sophia wisdom for you, too. Don't look at yourself to see if you are worthy for the Lord's Supper. Don't look at your life and how it's going. Don't get wrapped up trying to figure out how you feel about God that day. Confess your sins. And run to the Sacrament where you are forgiven. If you have doubts--about God or yourself--take them to the Lord's Supper. And the Body and Blood of your Lord and Savior will strengthen and keep you steadfast in the one true Faith unto life everlasting.

Rev. George F. Borghardt is the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bossier City, Louisiana and serves as the president of Higher Things.

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