Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009 2nd Sunday after Trinity Luke 14:15-24
And having heard these things, a certain one of those reclining together said to Him, "Blessed– everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" And He said to him, "A certain man was giving a great dinner, and he invited many; and he sent his slave in the hour of the dinner to say to those invited, ‘Come, because already it is prepared.' And they began as one, all of them, to make excuses. The first said to Him, ‘A field I've purchased and I myself need to go out to see it. I beg you, have me excused.' And another said, ‘I've purchased 5 yolk of oxen and I go to test them. I beg you, have me excused.' And another said, ‘A wife I've married and on account of this I am not able to come.'
And the slave, coming along, reported these things to his Lord. Then the house-ruler was angered; He said to His slave, ‘You go out into the streets and alleys of the city and the destitute and the crippled and the blind and the lame you bring in here.' And the slave said, ‘Lord, it's happened as you commanded, yet still there is room.' And the Lord said to the slave, ‘You go out onto the highways and bushes and you force to come in, in order that my house may be filled. For I say to you that no one of those invited men will taste of my dinner!'
In summer camp, I learned a song about today's gospel: "I cannot come to the banquet, don't bother me now, I have bought me a wife, I have married a cow, I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum; pray, have me excused, I cannot come." How foolish those folks were, I had thought, to make excuses to avoid their Lord's heavenly banquet. Then, when I went off to college, and Mom wasn't there to wake me each Sunday, I found my own excuses to miss the Lord's Feast.
The third commandment is clear: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Yet we find excuse after excuse to miss church on Sunday morning. 8:30 church is just too early, and church at 11 is at the best part of the day in the summer. We schedule weekends out of town, not bothering to find a church nearby, and when Pastor goes on vacation, he'll never know that we missed church. We justify our decisions thinking that we aren't actually despising God's word, just ignoring it for a week.
After all, it's not like we are missing out on the heavenly banquet feast, we rationalize. The communion service is just a foretaste of the Feast to come, isn't it? Or is it?! It's the same food of heaven, and Jesus, the same Bread of Life is fully present in His Supper each time it's held on earth. But this communion feast must not be too important, we assume, since we only have it every other Sunday. But perhaps we only commune twice a month because we fail to recognize how vital it is!
Suppose someone were to suggest that you only eat two meals per month. You would think such a suggestion to be utter foolishness! If you don't eat food daily, your health will deteriorate in no time. "Give us this day our daily bread" is how Jesus taught us to pray, after all. You care for your physical body enough to feed it daily, but what about your spirit? Is it any wonder how spiritually malnourished we become when we feast on the Lord's Supper so infrequently. Yet it is your spiritual sustenance!
Some think that since we received the sacrament of baptism only once, that the number of times we commune shouldn't matter. Well, you know that there is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. Yet you also know that your baptism is a gift that keeps on giving. For it washes away sins committed long after your baptism day, and you remember your baptism through daily contrition and repentance. You are also blessed to confess and be absolved in the very name in which you were baptized.
But the Lord's Supper is different. Jesus said to do it, not just once, but *often*. It is to be for you daily nourishment for your soul, offered to you as often as you desire to receive it! It is designed to bless your spiritual life in the same manner as physical food blesses your body. For Jesus' body given unto death is now your life everlasting, to eat in the bread of the Eucharist. His blood shed for you at the cross is now your life-blood unto eternal life. It is your daily bread for spiritual sustenance.
So don't be like that foolish man dining with Jesus, thinking only of the future feast in heaven. Jesus– God in the flesh--was present at his very supper table! And that same Savior Jesus is really present at the Lord's Table here, with the feast of His body and blood to forgive you each time you commune.
And don't be like those making excuses, thinking that you can wait till the heavenly feast. For Jesus brings a bit of heaven-on-earth to His people each Sunday and holiday when Holy Communion is celebrated. In this sacrament, He meets your needs of forgiveness, life and salvation, again and again!
Hymns from LSB:
#904 Blessed Jesus at Your Word
#622 Lord Jesus Christ, You have Prepared
#510 A Multitude Comes