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“Given and Shed for You”
1 Corinthians 11:23-26


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Maundy Thursday—April 9, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The text for our Maundy Thursday meditation is the familiar Words of Institution with which Christ gave us the Sacrament of Holy Communion, as recorded by St. Paul in this evening’s Epistle Reading.

There’s an old saying, “You are what you eat.”  This evening our Lord Jesus Christ invites you to eat and drink the Lord’s Supper, here at his altar.  To eat his body and drink his blood, “given and shed for you.”

The question is: What effect will this sacrament have on you in your everyday life?  If “you are what you eat,” how will eating and drinking at the Lord’s table here tonight change your life out there tomorrow?

In this holy Sacrament you receive from God forgiveness of sins.  Like medicine that heals a disease, Christ’s body and blood, in, with, and under the bread and wine, heals the disease of your sin.  Like vitamins which strengthen your body, this Sacrament is a spiritual vitamin for the strengthening of your soul.  The true body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthens you in the true faith unto life everlasting.  Faith to trust in Jesus.  Faith to receive the forgiveness he earned for you on the cross, the forgiveness he bestows on you in this holy Supper.

How will the forgiveness you receive here tonight change your life out there tomorrow?  St. Paul writes, “Forgive one another just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Are you holding a grudge against someone?  Has someone betrayed you, turned against you, hurt you?  Are you angry and upset?  St. Paul says, “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

God forgives you completely, totally, unconditionally.  God forgives and forgets.  The Lord declares in Jeremiah, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”  Psalm 103 says, “He forgives ALL your sins . . . as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us.”

How will the forgiveness you receive here tonight change your life out there tomorrow?  You will forgive others as the Lord forgave you: completely, totally, unconditionally.  You will forgive and forget.  As St. James says, “Don’t hold a grudge against one another.”

We call this Maundy Thursday.  The word “maundy” comes from the Latin “maundatum,” which means “commandment.”  On Maundy Thursday, Christ said to his disciples, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another. . . Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. . .  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Tonight you taste your Lord’s love for you, love so great that he laid down his life for you.  Love so great that you eat and drink his body and blood, given and shed for you.  How will the love of Jesus you experience here tonight change your life out there tomorrow?

St. John writes, “This is how God showed his love for us: He sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we would have life through him. . .  Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  St. Peter says, “Love one another deeply, from the heart.”  St. Paul describes Christian love in his famous “love chapter,” 1st Corinthians chapter 13: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not selfish, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

How will the love you experience here at this altar tonight change your life out there tomorrow?  As Jesus said to his disciples on the first Maundy Thursday, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

St. John tells us that Jesus “showed . . . the full extent of his love” that night when he got down on his knees and washed his disciples’ feet.  In humility Jesus showed his love by serving his disciples.  He said to them, “I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.”

Tonight in this holy Supper you remember the ultimate self-sacrifice of your Savior.     As Jesus said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  How will our Savior’s self-sacrifice for you which you remember here tonight change your life out there tomorrow?  St. Paul says, “Serve one another in love.”  Jesus said, “I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.”

You are what you eat.  This evening our Lord Jesus Christ invites you to eat and drink the Lord’s Supper here at his altar.  How will what you eat and drink here tonight change your life out there tomorrow?

In this holy Sacrament you receive from God forgiveness of sins.  “Forgive one another just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Tonight you taste our Lord’s love for you, love so great that he laid down his life for you.  “Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 

Tonight you remember the ultimate self-sacrifice of your Savior.  “I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.”  “Serve one another in love.”

A life of forgiveness, a life of love, a life of self-sacrifice and service.  Those are the changes what you eat and drink here tonight will bring in your life out there tomorrow, and every day.

Amen.

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