Discerning the Body

1 Corinthians 11:27–29

Easter collection

Photo by Rey Proenza / Unsplash

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

1 Corinthians 11:27–29, ESV

How often do we think about the Lord’s Supper and what is meant by it when we partake of it? The mystery of the Sacrament is centered on how it is our Lord’s body and blood. For Lutherans, we are to hear the words, “This is my body” and “This is my blood,” that comes from our Lord’s mouth and trust in them as our Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself. As we come to the table, we are to discern our faith and also our sins as we seek forgiveness. We should never come to the table holding anger against any prior to coming to the table. If we find that we are holding anything, we are called to seek to make amends before returning. The table is not meant to be open to all but to those who believe and have been prepared. I remember a church I served as pulpit supply when I was awaiting my first call, and the Bishop had given me permission to give communion. This little congregation had hired a Jewish man to be their organist. He normally played at minor league baseball games, so some of the hymns had an interesting feel to them, but he played well. Prior to the first time I administered communion, I was told this and that he had received communion. I asked the man before if he believed and trusted in Jesus, to which he replied, “No.” So, I explained to him the Sacrament, and he understood and did not seek it while I was there. He did not desire to convert and knew it was not for him. The people had only given it to him because they wanted to include him, but they were doing harm to this man, and we should be aware that the same is true for any who come to the table. If someone is not prepared, they should not feel they need to partake. We cannot compel anyone to take the Sacrament of the Altar if they do not desire or do not understand. The same is true if, as a believer, we do not feel prepared but come when ready to receive our Lord’s grace and be renewed as we take Him into ourselves. 

Let us pray. I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I ask you to protect me this day also from sin and every evil, that in all I do today, I may please you. For into your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel watch over me, that the wicked foe have no power over me. Amen.

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