So, honestly – I’m not choosing these readings – it just seems that way. There are a lot of paths I could have taken today.
The Gospel and the Old Testament reading, the end of the world is coming – wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, birth pangs – but don’t be alarmed, everything is going to be alright, says the Lord … the Apocalypse, but don’t worry, you’ll be fine … good news, eh?
In the Epistle … encouraging one another – choosing to continue to meet – a great topic for a group that was in part formed to keep together a group of people who were a part of each other’s lives for many years. I really thought about this one – but decided that it needs to be a letter I send to everyone from Peace – not just to the group assembled here this morning.
And then … here we are – about to celebrate the Lord’s Supper for the first time as a new congregation.
For years we have been told by the priests of our day that to preside at the table was their job alone. Only a person ordained or given special dispensation by a bishop will do.
But what are we told in the Epistle reading today? The priests of the Hebrews went behind a curtain to an altar and made sacrifices that never took away sins.
When wrongs were done there was a sacrifice made – something had to pay for what was done wrong … a lamb, a dove, whatever – it paid the price, some small measure of violence was ritually done by the priest, and perhaps two people didn’t lock in mortal combat to extract vengeance for a wrong deed having been done.
But what has happened between us and God? He laid down a set of pretty simple rules – there are only 10 of them … rules that we just can’t seem to keep to save our souls. We are always sinning – every day we do something that we deserve punishment for.
Then comes this incredible Covenant that was written of to the Hebrews – who were the people of that first Covenant God made to Abraham you may recall – he now says; “I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds, then he adds, I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
Because Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins we are told that we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain – not through the action of some priest but by the action and Words of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
So this is one more lesson that instructs us that what we do as a congregation with or without benefit of ordained clergy is done with just as much authority. So I tell you right now – there is nothing magical that I do in presiding at communion – there is no consecration that occurs by my words. The Lord’s Supper is effective because He says so – the Words of Institution are His words – I’m only reading them. The offering was His offering – His sacrifice of himself – of His body and blood on that terrible instrument of torture and death … and yet through God’s grace, a beautiful instrument of victory and life … the cross.
The Word of the Lord,