The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

Maundy Thursday April 17, 2014

 

1 Corinthians 11:23-32 A Time to Eat and a Time to Speak

 

Dear fellow redeemed,

In Ecclesiastes chapter three the prophet Solomon declares that "For everything there is a season,

and a time for every matter under heaven." He then goes on to list several activities.

* Here are a few he mentions: There is "a time to be born, and a time to die; . . . a time to

plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to

speak; . . . a time for war, and a time for peace."

* We may gather from Solomon's words that we're to reserve time for all things that are

beneficial or a necessary part of our lives.

* Also there's right time for things and a wrong times for things, or we might say it's not

appropriate to engage in certain activities at the same time.

* Who's ever heard of waging war at the very time that you're calling for peace?

Or have ever witnessed someone planting and harvesting simultaneously?

Or is it even possible to speak and keep silence at the very same time?

* Or let's use an example from your childhood.

You had better not even think of speaking at the dinner table with food in your mouth.

* You have something to say? Say it before you take your bite or after you have chewed

and swallowed your food. But do not speak while you are eating.

* There is a time to eat. And there is a time to speak. . .

Don't imagine for even a moment that you may do both at the same time.

* Are you sure? Let's come back to that a little later.

 

Today we observe Maundy Thursday.

And in so doing we recognize three things about the meal our Lord has prepared for us this day.

* First: We speak before we eat.

The historic understanding of the Sacrament is that you may come to Communion after

you've received adequate instruction in the Christian faith.

* In other words, the sacrament is offered to those who are prepared to examine themselves.

St. Paul instructs us saying, "Let a person examine himself . . . and so eat of the bread and

drink of the cup."

* To examine your self is to answer some basic questions. Do I believe I'm a sinner?

How have I sinned? Do I believe Christ died for my sin? Do I believe my Lord offers me

his body and blood under the bread and wine in the Sacrament even today for my forgiveness?

* Typically this process begins after you've been confirmed and can assure the congregation

that you're capable of examining yourself and benefitting from the Sacrament.

* The second last question in our Catechism asks "Who must not be given the Sacrament?"

And the final point listed is "Those who are unable to examine themselves, such as infants,

people who have not received proper instruction, or the unconscious."

* Note the question does not say: "those who are confused or suffering from Alzheimer's."

* I suspect the editors of the catechism wanted to cover two bases.

* First, we would never take the position that the Sacrament be refused to anyone suffering

from dementia. Just because you're confused, doesn't mean you can't confess the "Real

Presence"; that Christ's body and blood indeed are present in the Sacrament.

* But at the same time, the editors recognized that those who are not conscious of their

surroundings or that they're even at the divine service perhaps should not be force fed the

body and blood of our Savior.

 

So, how do you know who's who? Can the pastor necessarily make that judgment?

* Let's say someone is quite elderly and perhaps mentally impaired. When should he or

she be offered the Sacrament and when might the pastor not offer the Sacrament?

* Well, let me relate a couple experiences of mine from the last ten years or so.

Edwin was suffering from Alzheimer's and was a shut-in.

I knew about his condition but I visited him each month and offered him the Sacrament.

* Then one day, in the middle of my devotion, he stood up and started walking in circles in

his room. He was also mumbling something to himself but I couldn't understand it.

* That day I determined it might be best the next time to pause rather than automatically

giving him the Lord's Supper. I should determine whether he was conscious of what I

was offering him and therefore capable of examining himself.

* And a good indication would be if he could also sit long enough to hear God's Word.

 

Then again the window may be there. But sometimes it doesn't stay open that long.

* A second experience of mine involved a gentleman by the name of Elmer.

Elmer I've talked about in Bible Class.

* He also was a bit confused. He didn't always know where he was or who I was when I

came to see him. He sometimes would also get a bit agitated and even combative.

Who was I to be offering him the Sacrament?

* So I'd play it by ear, as to whether Elmer might receive the Sacrament on a given day.

* Well, time when by and I realized it had been a few visits since he received Communion.

Elmer had been in another world and I hadn't been able to bring him out of it.

* So I decided to use a different approach. I spoke to him about his former congregation,

Christ Lutheran, Oak Park Illinois. I spoke to him about his parochial school teacher,

Miss Pighorst and about Pastor Lams. We visited for a while about good memories.

* And then I popped the question. "Elmer, would you like to receive the Sacrament today?

He answered without hesitation. "Yes, Pastor I would love to receive Christ's body and

blood for the forgiveness of my sins!"

* The window may not have remained open for a real long time.

But he had clearly examined himself. He acknowledged his sins.

He confessed his faith and to his great joy he received the body and blood of his Savior.

 

The second thing we recognize about the meal our Lord has prepared for us is that:

We speak after we eat.

* Coming to to mind is our prayer of thanks having returned to our pew.

We're grateful for having received the Sacrament and we pray that Christ's body and blood

may continue to sustain us in our faith.

* Or in the words of the pastor: "May the true body and blood of our Savior strengthen and

preserve you in the true faith unto life after lasting."

* We speak after we eat in response to hearing the Gospel and receiving the Sacrament.

What an incredible honor I've just received! Christ would fellowship with me a proven sinner!

 

Keep in mind that we speak not simply through our words but also our actions.

* That's the point Jesus is making in today's Gospel reading.

He says to his disciples, "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am."

* Their confession of faith is correct, but a confession is never complete without follow

through. So Jesus continues. "If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet,

you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also

should do just as I have done to you."

* By demonstrating such loving service to them, Jesus impressed his disciples with more

than words. As servants and messengers of his, they should know that they are not greater

than their Lord who sent them out with his Word.[i]

* As they had received his Word and in turn would teach his Word to others, so ought they

to live his Word. "A new commandment I give to you" Jesus says to them.

"That you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

* From that night on, Jesus' disciples were to practice love in the light of Jesus' love; his

sacrifice on the cross.[ii]

 

It's also what we get to do, having heard the Gospel and having received the Sacrament.

* After we eat or consume the Word of our Savior and his message of forgiveness, we

speak; we both give and live out his words for the sake of others.

* Today and any day that you receive Christ's body and blood you may consider it Act One

of the rest of your life, for you have just been given and incredible opportunity.

* You may think to yourself: "if I've just been forgiven and assured I'm still a child of God;

Well, I'm going to live out the rest of this day as though it were true."

* "I'm going to go forth and fulfill my different Christian vocations as that a child of God.

I'm going to act like the Lord will work through me to the benefit of my wife, my husband,

my parent, my child, my friends and associates at work!"

 

We speak before we eat. We speak after we eat.

* But what would you think if I told you in the third place that we speak while we eat?

That's right! Every time you come to this altar you are making a statement whether you're

thinking about it or not. At the very time that you eat Christ's body and drink his blood,

you're acknowledging the truth concerning your Savior.

* "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup" St. Paul declares, "you proclaim

the Lord's death until he comes."

* That is why we do not invite those of a different confession to join us at this altar, or let's

say those who oppose Christ's doctrine. To do so would be to compromise our confession.

* We'd be sending the wrong message about what believe, that it doesn't matter what view

you have about the Lord's Supper.

* That was the problem in Corinth.

St. Paul continues, "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and

drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died."

* Many of the parishioners in Corinth had been abusing the Sacrament.

And many, as a result, had become sick or even died spiritually. They had lost their faith.

It's because they had not been going to receive forgiveness and strengthening in their faith.

* They simply went to fill their stomach and get drunk, while others were deprived of the

Sacrament, for there wasn't anything left for them.

 

It may sound a bit unbelievable.

* How could someone - claiming to be a believer - have such disrespect for the body and

blood of their Savior?! They had been instructed. They knew who Jesus was and what

he accomplished for sinners!

* We find it shocking. And yet we observe the same kind of abuse today. People come

because they feel entitled. They belong to a church. They used to attend Sunday School.

* And yet they don't believe that the consecrated bread and wine are the very body and

blood Christ shed on the cross for us.

* Or if they do believe it, there isn't the proper connection between their eating and

speaking. The two contradict each other inasmuch as they're living with a sin and are not

willing to turn away from their sin.

* Imagine spending a couple hours preparing this incredible meal for your family.

The adults are in the dining room and the younger people in the kitchen.

* The conversation is great and the grownups are having a wonderful time.

So are the children. You soon detect a commotion developing in the kitchen.

* So you decide to check it out. And you enter the room just in time to see your children or

grandkids flinging the food at each other.

It's everywhere; on their face, their clothes, running down the walls.

* You want to tell them that's not what the meal is for, but it seems a bit obvious.

* So it may be said of those who wish to believe or live as they choose with no regard for

the Real Presence and the true teaching Christ has given his Church.

 

It is the proper use of Christ's Supper; we observe the great honor of speaking while we're eating.

* Think about it! At the very time we're receiving the body and blood of God's Son for the

forgiveness of our sins we're confessing the same.

* At the very time that we position ourselves before the Lord's altar we're confessing with

everyone else who stands here with us that Jesus died for our sins . . .

So that we might go to heaven he became our substitute who was punished in our place.

* At the very time that we're being strengthened in our faith we're declaring to the whole

world that they may receive the same strengthening from this Savior we all share.

* Did you know you were doing all that talking with your mouth full?

Of course you're not drawing attention to yourself.

You're drawing attention to Christ and his saving doctrine. And that's a good thing!

 

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."

* The Lord grant us continuing opportunities to use our time wisely.

* May we receive the joy that accompanies such a privilege to speak before we eat, to

speak after we eat and to speak while we're eating. Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

A Time to Eat and a Time to Speak

I - We speak before we eat.

II - We speak after we eat.

III - We speak while we're eating.

 



[i]Gary P. Baumler, The People's Bible - John; Northwestern Publishing House, Milwaukee, WI, 189.

 

[ii]Ibid, 194.