His Body Offered and Broken
My kids think they are funny. Some of this attempted funniness finds itself in serious moments. The kids will take something they actively know and flip it on its head. Sometimes the things they say are ridiculous. Sometimes their humor and ridiculousness is used for seeking affirmation of points they do not fully understand. Such an event occurred recently around our dinner table.
Judah's fascination with the Lord's Supper is growing every Sunday. He instigates discussions during Service about the elements. Sometimes he states what he knows in the form of questions to receive affirmation. We are getting to the point of telling him that he must wait for a little while longer, but that he needs to prepare himself to be interviewed by the Elders and stand before the church.
We review sin, Christ's death, and faith. At dinner, we communicated to a believing Judah that Christ had died for his sin. Mid-bite Kenzie chimed in that Christ had not died for her sins. There was a little bit of funniness. But this was more a complete reverse of what she knows to be true. Correction occurred, but I confess that I missed the chance to answer confessionally.
To some, this type of answer might originally seem irrelevant. But I believe the Heidelberg Catechism to properly present the summary of Scripture without stepping into over-systematization. So the utilization of this language helps in instructing. If I had been prepared I would have answered Kenzie with what the Heidelberg Catechism says,
Q66. What are sacraments?
A. Sacraments are visible, holy signs and seals. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and seal that promise. And this is God’s gospel promise: to grant us forgiveness of sins and eternal life by grace because of Christ’s one sacrifice accomplished on the cross.
Q69. How does holy baptism remind and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross benefits you personally?
A. In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing and with it promised that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, that is, all my sins.
Q75. How does the holy supper remind and assure you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all his benefits?
A. In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup in remembrance of him. With this command come these promises: First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup shared with me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross.
If I had been thinking confessionally, I would have answered Kenzie with something she deeply appreciates — the Supper. Partaking in the Supper is her favorite part of the service. And in the Supper, her questions and doubts are answered.
That is what the Sacraments do for the church. They answer our questions. They are not our statements of belief. They are God's statements of promise to us. Even those of us who are older face doubts similar to Kenzie's. We may not confess it at a dinner table, but there are times when we question the church and our relationship to God. Maybe through fatigue, shame, guilt, or apathy our time spent in church might feel fruitless. We might be left asking ourselves "did Christ die for me?"
The answer is found in the free offer of the Lord's Table. When I as a baptized member of God's family receive the elements, I am reaffirmed once again that "as surely as I see with my eyes...so surely his body was offered and broken for me."
Kenzie isn't the only person who needs to hear this weekly. Pastors need to hear this weekly. The entire church needs to hear this weekly. The beauty is not in the need. The beauty is that wherever the Supper is served God says it.