St Andrew Lutheran Church 
  4420 Center Point Rd NE
  Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
  (319) 393-4021
February 21, 2016
"Taste and See"

I must admit, I love the taste of the St. Andrew communion bread.  Lori and Jonathan joined the Altar Guild many years ago as one of several Communion Bread Bakers in our congregation.  [If you like to bake, there is always room for more bakers!]  A couple times each year, mother and son would get together in the kitchen and mix the “secret recipe”; forming a dozen balls of dough, rolling them out, and baking them into saucer-sized discs.  As with any bread baking activity, the house soon smelled delicious.

Occasionally, though unfortunately not too often, they’d make a little more dough so there would be an “extra” one for the boys (and parents of course) to enjoy.  Fresh out of the oven and warm, there was no need for butter or jam.  The honey in the mixture made it taste oh so good all by itself.  Of course, at that moment in time, it was nothing more than a simple, flat disc of bread.  It was tasty to the tongue and nourishing for the body, but still just “bread”.

This week in EfM (Education for Ministry), our group read a little about the various theological interpretations of the Eucharist (Holy Communion).  Materialists, such as those in the traditional Roman Catholic Church, asserted that the elements were in fact converted into the body and blood of Christ.  Other reformers took an opposing stance and viewed it as “only a memorial of Christ’s death.”  Realists such as Athanasius, Tertullian, and Augustine drew “a distinction between the visible elements and what they signify and mediate by God’s power.  The visible elements are not mere pointers to an absent reality; instead, the bread and wine are signs of a reality that is somehow actually present, though the reality is apprehended [made known] only by faith.”

Several years ago, my father (a life-long protestant Christian) began to abstain from participating in Holy Communion because he had developed a “materialistic” view, and was having difficulty getting past the whole “body and blood” idea.  I tried to reorient his focus and emphasized the community aspect of the sacrament with him; joining with others to become “one body”, including our distribution outward to our homebound members.  However, I had trouble explaining how it was more than a symbolic memorial.

Well, I finally found an explanation that works for me, and maybe it will work for you as well.  William R. Crockett once wrote…

“The sacrament always consists of two parts, a visible and invisible, an earthly and a heavenly….Only the faithful recipient receives the res [inward reality] of the sacrament along with the outward sign.  The outward signs [physical elements] are received by the mouth and enter into the stomach.  [But] the inward grace of the sacrament is only eaten by faith.”

So the next time you kneel at the rail and await God’s grace, consider how this meal can nourish your faith and strengthen your portion of the body of Christ.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!  Thanks be to God!

David Krueger

Bibliography:  Allen, D. (2010). Theology for a Troubled Believer: An Introduction to the Christian Faith. [pages 175-176]
Midweek Lenten Service at 7:00pm Wednesdays 
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