Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy (Maundy) Thursday Divine Service - Noon

IntroitPs. 116:1-4; antiphon:  Ps. 116:5
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
     our God is merciful.
I love the Lord, because he has heard
     my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
     therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
     I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
     “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
     our God is merciful.

Collect of the Day:
O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion.  Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Old Testament Reading:  Jeremiah 31:31-34

Gradual:  Heb. 9:12a, c, 15a; Ps. 111:9a
[Christ] entered once for all into the holy places, by means of his own blood,
     thus securing an eternal redemption.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant,
     so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.
He sent redemption to his people;
     he has commanded his covenant forever.

Epistle:  Hebrews 10:15-25

Holy Gospel:  Luke 22:7-20 

The Homily (with text below):  

21 April Anno + Domini 2011
“The Holy Eucharist”
Luke 22:7-20 (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 10:15-25)

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

On this Holy Thursday, our attention is given especially to meditate upon the Holy Eucharist.  This is the new covenant in Jesus’ Blood prophesied by Jeremiah.  This is our Lord’s last will and testament, which He bequeathed to His Holy Bride, the Church, and by which He continually feeds and sustains her.  This is the lifeblood of the Christian, the source of strength and preservation in the one, true faith.  This is the Heavenly Manna, the Bread of Life, which our Lord rains down upon us to feed and sustain us as we make our way through the wilderness of this sinful world and to the Promised Land of His Eternal Kingdom.  This is the medicine of immortality, by which the leprosy of sin that afflicts us is thoroughly healed.  This is the Breaking of the Bread, by which our Lord Jesus is made known to us.  This is where we behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  This is where we take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. 
We could say so much more about this Most Holy Meal, but eventually our words expire in attempting to describe it, for it is a mystery beyond our full comprehension.  Who can adequately describe this mysterious and miraculous Meal?  Here Jesus gives His actual Flesh as Real Food and His actual Blood as Real Drink.  Here we penitent believers recline at Table with the Lord of the universe.  Here we enter the Holy Places by the Flesh and Blood of our great High Priest.  Here we are joined to all the saints, both on earth and in heaven, surrounded by the heavenly host – here heaven and earth come together as one! 
Oh, my friends, if we could but see with our human eyes what is really taking place when we participate in this Sacred Meal, I dare say it would be too much for us to handle.  Such is why, by His grace and mercy, our Holy Lord gives Himself to us in this Holy Meal humbly and hiddenly, riding into our hearts via our mouths upon simple bread and wine.  His power is hidden in seeming weakness; His wisdom is camouflaged in what appears to be foolish.  That’s His way. 
Let the world call us fools for believing the Word of our Lord which assures us that with the bread and wine we receive the very Body and Blood of our Lord.  For this is no mere memorial meal, no time to simply reminisce and daydream about what happened on a hill outside the walls of Jerusalem two thousand years ago – this is real!  And, because it is real, it demands our reverence and awe – yea, even our astonishment.  For nothing in this life compares to what happens at the Table of our Lord, for here we receive our Lord Himself, and with Him the forgiveness, life, and salvation He won for us on the Holy Cross, which has become for us the Tree of Life, the fruits of which are delivered to, and received by, us in the Holy Eucharist.
This Holy Meal is the center of our Christian lives, my friends.  We move to and from the altar of our Lord; we live to and from the altar of our Lord, where our lovely Bridegroom loves and provides for His beautiful Bride, even we, His Holy Christian Church. 
O come, all ye faithful.  O come ye to Bethlehem, to this House of Bread, and partake of the One who came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary; the One who was lain in a manger – a feeding trough – and now places Himself upon the manger of the altar to be our Food.  O come, let us adore Him and feed on Him – Christ the Lord!  O come, all ye faithful, to the Table of your Lord, singing: 
Praise we Him, whose love divine
Gives His sacred blood for wine,
Gives His body for the feast—
Christ the victim, Christ the priest. (LSB 633:2)

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

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