The Gift of the Lord’s Supper

On the night in which he was betrayed Jesus shares a meal with his disciples and friends knowing full well that in just a short time they would all fail him. In a string of events on one single night, these people that Jesus loved; passed out in the garden when Jesus told them to stay awake, handed him over to be executed by the authorities in exchange for some measly silver, they denied knowing him in during his trial, and they abandoned him as he hung on the cross to die.

Jesus loved these people! He chose them, called them by name to follow him. These are the people that Jesus invited to share his last meal with. Betrayers. Deniers. Abandoners. Quite the motley crew of sinners, his disciples are. But sinners are exactly the type of people that this communion is for. Jesus’ whole reason to be born into flesh, to become fully human was so that he could shed his own blood and die on the cross, for the sake of sinners—for sinners like his disciples, for sinners like you and me.

Here Jesus speaks his last will and testament before his imminent death. You see, this Last Supper, was not really the last of anything, but the beginning of a new covenant, a pact. In these words Jesus speaks a command and a promise not just to his disciples, but to all of God’s beloved who are trapped in bondage to the captivating powers of sin, death, and the devil. This meal and these words of command and promise are spoken for you, a sinner—and also a beloved child of God.

First, we hear the commands of Christ: “Do this,” Jesus says. “Eat,” “Drink,” and “do this in remembrance of me.” In just a few minutes we’ll hear Pastor Pam speak these same words before Holy Communion and we’ll hear why Jesus commands us to “eat, drink, do this.”—for the forgiveness of sins. For the forgiveness of your sin. Like a physician prescribing life-saving medicine only to those who are truly sick, Jesus prescribes this sacrament only to those in need of forgiveness. I don’t know about you, but my prideful and rebellious self doesn’t want forgiveness because that would mean that I have something that I need to be forgiven for. Only sinners are in need of forgiveness. This sacrament exposes the disease of sin within you and your desperate need for a cure.

This is a message that can be a hard pill to swallow, so Jesus combines the command with a promise. Christ first promises the gift of his presence—“this is my body; this is my blood”—Christ has promised to be truly and fully present when we come to the altar. He is present in and with the bread and wine not by some magic trick, but because this is where Christ has promised to be found. It is the combination of Jesus’ words together with the physical, tactile bread and wine that we are assured of his true presence. Christ has promised to show-up, that is the first part of his promise.

The second part is even more astounding. Not only has Christ promised to be present in the bread and the wine, so as to be some sort of admired spectacle of remembrance, but he has promised his true flesh and true blood to be broken, given, and shed for you. It is a promise that God will remain faithful to you, even when your faith is depleted. This is not just an abstract theological idea, but an actual, individual promise that Christ has made with you. This is the miraculous gift of communion! Christ has promised all these things for you, his beloved little renegade, and asks nothing of you in return.

We come to the table with nothing to offer but our ravenous hunger for forgiveness. And so Christ feeds us with his body and blood, filling our bellies to the brim with the comfort foods of forgiveness and faith. Jesus loves you so much that it is not enough for him to merely be near you, but within you—as a hunk of bread and a gulp of wine, he desires to feed you his own body and blood so that you may be filled immediately, and again and again, with his with his sustenance.

On the night in which he was betrayed, Christ gave us the life-sustaining gift of Holy Communion. Come now to the table, you who are hungry for you shall be filled with the nourishment of the Lord. Thanks be to God for this truly amazing gift. Amen.

“There are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and the world that we often grow weary and faint, at times even stumble. The Lord’s Supper is given as a daily food and sustenance so that our faith may refresh and strengthen itself and not weaken in the struggle but grow continually stronger.”

A reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 11:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord

Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The Word of the Lord.

[1] Martin Luther, Large Catechism, “On the Lord’s Supper,” Line 24.

Rebecca Holland

Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church

Maundy Thursday Service


Jesus’ Second Gift: A New Commandment: Love One Another

Tonight is “Maundy Thursday.” “Maundy” is Latin for Mandatum, which is translated “Commandment”. Jesus gives a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” But “Love one another” doesn’t sound new. And it’s not. Jesus adapts Deuteronomy 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” The commandment or admonition to love one another has been around for a long time and shows up in many cultures, faiths and contexts.

So what makes it “new?” It’s the second part… “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. ” Jesus has gathered his disciples around him to celebrate the Passover feat. He knows what’s coming and yet… look what he does. He knows that Judas will betray him – and yet… Jesus feeds him. Jesus knows that Peter will deny him – and yet… he washes Peter’s feet. He knows that not one of the disciples will stay by his side – and yet he breaks bread with them and washes their feet – all of them, even the feet of his betrayer, Judas.

Do you see what Jesus is doing? He’s living out the commandment that he is giving them. Why? He loves them and so he serves them and provides an example for us.

This is what Jesus asks us to do for one another. Remember the old camp song, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love?” Jesus wants us to love one another, serve and care for others – not just those who care for you… but all the people we meet – even those that are not so nice, even those that can’t “pay you back”.

This is why we go on service mission trips with the youth. We practice being intentional in our serving and in our giving of our time, our talents and our selves with one another and with the strangers we meet. Mission trips are a great way of loving and serving the neighbor -- perhaps we all need to go!

But… we really don’t need to go somewhere else to do this. Loving one another for the disciples started with the people who were around the table – and then it spread from there. And that’s where it starts for us too… with the people who live with you, work with you, go to school with you, worship with you and live in the community with you.

This is what Jesus calls us to do – and I know that you do it! But sometimes we don’t think about it. So right now, I’d like you to take just a moment to think of a time within the last week in which you have shown someone – anyone – love or kindness. Is there a time you have served someone else? It doesn’t have to be someone you know… Maybe you let a mom with a big grocery cart and a screaming kid in line ahead of you? Maybe you wrote a note to someone. Maybe you delivered a meal. It doesn’t have to be something big – maybe you smiled at a person having a bad day. Take just a moment… and if you can’t think of anything… well… the week isn’t over yet, you can plan to show love to someone yet today. This is what we do and can do in our everyday lives: we love one another – and every time that we do, we are proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ through our words and deeds. People will indeed: “know you are Christians by your love.”

And now… the flip side. I’d like to invite you to remember a time that you haven’t loved your neighbor/ friend/ family as Jesus has loved you. If you are like me, those come to mind far too quickly. Again, take a moment to think of a time you haven’t loved someone as Jesus loves you. The truth is that all of us fail sometimes to love as Jesus loves us. There are times that we do not reflect God’s love to our neighbor - this is why we all need forgiveness.

Thanks be to God that we have a God of not only second chances but a God who doesn’t keep track but instead forgives us again and again and again. And not only that, but Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to die for us – for you… for me. That’s sacrificial love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus shows his love for us through service and by dying to give us new life. Each day Jesus invites you and me to live into this new life by loving others as He loves us and sends the Holy Spirit to help us. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Pastor Pamela Stalheim Lane

Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church

Maundy Thursday Service


Jesus’ Third Gift: Himself

Finally, we come to the garden of Gethsemane, the place of betrayal. In the other Gospels, this is a place of prayer and building resolve. But in John’s telling of the story, Jesus is ready. This is his mission. He knows what’s going to happen and steps forward to ask them, “Whom are you looking for?” When they reply, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus replies with the Greek form of the Divine name, “I AM.” In translating, we add the “he” to make sense grammatically, so we read: “I AM he.” But Jesus says: I AM.

The Romans had come with weapons and numbers – a whole detachment of soldiers – that’s 480 soldiers -- plus police from the chief priests and Pharisees. Yet when they heard the name, I AM, they stepped back and fell to the ground.

Remember back to Moses and the burning bush? Moses had the audacity to ask God, “What is your name? Whom shall I say sent me?” And the Lord God replied, “I AM who I AM.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus uses seven I AM metaphors to help us understand who He is, saying: I AM the Bread of Life; I AM the Light Of The World; The Gate; The Good Shepherd; The Vine. I AM the Resurrection and the Life; The Way, The Truth and The Life. And now, three times, he declares, I AM.

Jesus is ready and willing. When Peter tries to defend him, Jesus tells him to put his sword away and asks, “Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

I am reminded of the Philippians hymn we read on Sunday. Jesus empties himself, humbles himself and becomes obedient to the point of death – even death on the cross.

Jesus and his disciples had been celebrating the anniversary of the first Passover night. God saved the first born son of the Hebrew people by having the angel of death “pass over’ all the doors marked with the blood of a lamb. They were spared. But on this Passover night Jesus’ final gift was to not have the Angel of death pass over him, but, out of love, to empty himself, humble himself and to give his life for us. He became the Lamb of God. Amen.

Pastor Pamela Stalheim Lane

Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church

Maundy Thursday Service