Reflections: September 23, 2020
Wednesday of the 15th Week after Trinity
By Mark Buetow
Who receives this sacrament worthily? 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." (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, pt.4)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What makes you ready to receive Communion? Being a Lutheran? Memorizing the catechism? Many generations of young people have gone through the grueling experience of memorizing every last word of Luther's Small Catechism. Many have had to stand in church and have questions hurled at them to see whether they've learned it all. Is that what makes you finally "worthy" enough to get Jesus' Body and Blood?
Learning the catechism is certainly fine training. It's good to know what God's Word says. It's good to memorize the Bible and catechism and hide God's Word in our hearts. It's good to be trained in theology and understand that the Bible is all about Jesus.
But that's not why you get to receive Communion. Jesus says, "This is my Body and my Blood. It's given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." He has a gift for you. You are worthy to receive that gift, but not because you are a good person. You are worthy to receive that gift, but not because you studied hard and got an "A" on your catechism tests. You're worthy, but not because you can say every last word of the catechism. You're worthy because Jesus says you are.
He as much says, "You are a sinner. I am your Savior. I gave Myself into death for your sins. I give you My Body and Blood so you know that forgiveness is truly yours. Eat. Drink. Know that you are forgiven and have eternal life."
You are truly worthy and well prepared, not because you think you are but because Jesus says you are. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
I do not merit favor, Lord, My weight of sin would break me; In all my guilty heart's discord, O Lord, do not forsake me. In my distress this comforts me That You receive me graciously, O Christ, my Lord of mercy! ("Lord Jesus Christ, Life-Giving Bread" LSB 625, st. 4)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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