Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, part 5
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, part 5)
In the Name + of Jesus. Are you cool enough to commune? That seems like a silly question, but sometimes that is what it sounds like is being referred to when we talk about being worthy to receive the body and blood of the Lord in the Sacrament of the Altar. Is that what really lies behind the notion of being worthy to commune? Is admittance to the table based on some kind of ecclesiastical coolness factor and if it is, you want to be cool, don’t you?
The language about worth makes it sound like there is something that you can do to make yourself worthy to receive communion. If this was the case, then communion would be the reward you got for being properly prepared for it. It would be the recognition that you had made yourself worthy. The Lord’s Supper would become the meal that you earned through your efforts. You did your part, now God is bound to do His. If worthiness to commune was based on your efforts how many times a year could you do the work necessary to commune?
Thankfully this is not what the language of worthy to commune is referring to. There is no coolness factor, ecclesiastical or otherwise that you have to worry about or work towards. Communion, like baptism, like the gospel itself, is not a reward, it is a gift. Communion is not something that you earn the right to receive by making yourself worthy. Like all gifts, it is something that is given. You don’t get communion; you receive it as a gift. If communion is a gift, then so too is the status of being worthy to receive it. Belief in the words ‘given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins is what makes you worthy to commune. The belief that the Lord’s Supper is for you is all you need to approach the altar week after week without worry or fear that you are unworthy. The very faith that makes you worthy to receive the gifts of God is in itself a gift of God. He is the one who made you a Christian and He is the one who has made you worthy to commune. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
We dare not ask how this can be, But simply hold the mystery And trust this word where life begins: “Given and shed for all your sins.” (The Death of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, LSB 634 st 5)
-Pastor Grant Knepper is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, Hillsboro, Oregon.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.