The Glory Has Departed


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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity, 2015. Mark 8:1-9.
Abundance and Grace in Holy Communion



The Seventh Sunday after Trinity, 2015
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



The melodies are linked in the hymn title. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.

The Hymn #9                                     O Day of Rest                                        
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #427                    How Firm a Foundation                  

Holy Communion - Abundance and Grace


The Communion Hymn #313               O Lord We Praise Thee                                  The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 199                            Jesus Christ Is Risen Today                 

KJV Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Mark 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

Lord God, heavenly Father, who in the wilderness didst by Thy Son abundantly feed four thousand men besides women and children with seven loaves and a few small fishes: We beseech Thee, graciously abide among us with Thy blessing, and keep us from covetousness and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things needful for body and soul, experience Thine ever-present help; through Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Holy Communion - Abundance and Grace
KJV Mark 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:  3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.

Today we are going to consider the Sacrament of Holy Communion and its relationship to this miracle. Both miracles show God revealing an abundance of grace to large multitudes.

The skeptics attack this miracle by explaining it away, as if God's Word would contain all the material needed to refute it as suggesting one thing and yet teaching something else. One line of attack is to say that everyone shared their hidden meals. Nothing even suggests that, so those people have to be disregarded, but notice how the same rationalism enters the discussion of Holy Communion.

The miracle of Feeding the Four Thousand begins with great need. On the one hand is a vast multitude, counting the men alone as 4,000. They are far away from food supplies, but not water. They may fill up with water and take some along home. However, they do not have enough food to get them all home, because a desert area burns up as many calories as a wintry one. Heat and dehydration make people disoriented and no longer thirsty, so they rapidly decline in mental acuity as their metabolism dries up.

So the first thing we see is a vast need, one beyond all human solutions. No one has enough money to buy them all food, and no provisions can be gathered anyway. A fast food place bawled me out for ordering 40 hamburgers at once. Imagine 4,000 - and they were built for that sort of thing.

And yet we do one thing about this multitude. They had faith in Christ. They were so hungry and thirsty for righteousness that they followed Him out into danger instead of staying home where the provisions were. 

The next thing we notice already is that Jesus already has compassion on this multitude and speaks out loud for a solution, before anyone raises the issue. This is God answering prayers and providing relief before we think to ask. He is already answering us before we pray (Isaiah) and doing more than we can imagine or think (Ephesians). God knows our situation and what will happen without His help. 

 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

This is the human response. We base our conclusions on our knowledge and experience. Clearly, although the Savior has raised the issue, there is no solution in the desert.

In Holy Communion there are two erroneous answers to this Sacrament. 

Magical
The Church of Rome says that the priest alone has the magical power to convert bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, so it is no longer bread and wine at all but only looks like it. This is transubstantiation. When a priest is ordained, he is given a chalice to symbolize this power. If he leaves the priesthood, he still has that power if he returns. Once a priest, always a priest.

Rationalistic
The Calvinists (with many variations) say, with the disciples - This cannot be done. Real Presence is a Roman error, they claim, and this is not a sacrament that gives the forgiveness of sin. It is only symbolic and it is only an ordinance to be obeyed, perhaps three times a year.

The Roman Catholics do  not accept the Biblical position and neither do the Calvinists. Many who leave Catholicism become Calvinists. so they move from one error to another.

The Efficacy of the Word
The answer to this problem is the efficacy or power of the Word of God. Modern man also has trouble with Creation, and compromising Christians have Creation take billions of years to satisfy their science teachers (just a wit big - not enough).

All things were created through the Son of God, and the Creation took six 24 hour days. Those who no longer believe this Biblical doctrine will always go their own way with everything else.

Some say they believe Creation but they also deny the obvious - the Son of God who gave us wheat, barley, rye, and corn can also multiply those elements of Creation. The Word created and the Word can multiply beyond any human ability to comprehend.

These denials create a fatal spiral that develops over time in individuals, in denominations, and in entire regions. Rationalism leads to atheism, and trust in man's power is always going to be cataclysmic for  man.

If the Son of God cannot multiply the loaves and fish, then how can provide for His Body and Blood for millions of Christians across the generations? The argument is usually framed the other way. They cannot accept Real Presence for millions of believers but they say they teach the miracle of the Feeding of the Four Thousand. So now we have picking and choosing of miracles. One denial leads to a rejection of other, no matter where we start.

And then we have to ask how God can hear silent prayers or even spoken ones. How can He possible hear all the prayers of all the congregations on Sunday? The same argument has been offered about distributing the Body and Blood of Christ, and yet those who offer prayers do not accept this limitation for God. He hears and answers, they say. And so He provides, across the ages, His Body and Blood.

The Real Presence is not a discovery of man but a mystery of God, taught in the Word and received in faith.

5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them

The key here is the efficacious Word of God. Just as the Word called the heavens and earth into existence, the plants and animals to life, Adam and Eve to form the human family, so the Word multiplied the food, gracious abundance in the midst of overwhelming need. 

So we are in the same kind of desert today, a desert that would kill us with its hostile and demanding environment. Our culture is dying away and doctors mock unborn life by selling baby body parts while slurping wine at lunch. How can any believer survive in such a place as we have invented with our indolence and greed? Old Adam is strong among us all, and yet God has provided abundant grace in the midst of abundant need.

The sole purpose of the Christian Church is to teach faith in Christ, and this Sacrament deepens faith when we study the plain Word of God. 
  • We gather to remember the Last Supper, like the Jews at the Passover Meal. "On the night in which He was betrayed." 
  • Every communion service re-enacts the Passion, when Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. We receive the Body and Blood individually, so this Visible Word cannot be ignored or fly past us like a sermon. 
  • The taste of the bread and aroma of the wine, consecrated by the powerful Word, are also Body and Blood, increasing our faith.
  • This is "for the forgiveness of sin," which is grace from this Means of Grace.
  • Nothing more is required for this forgiveness of sin than a believing heart when we receive this Sacrament.
8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

They did eat and were filled. Although we do not face such serious loss of food, because God has blessed our country, we do know what it is like to be starving and weak and only have water - which mocks the empty stomach. Food is life or death for diabetics. 

The abundance should not be overlooked. They were all starving and yet could not eat all that Christ provided. There we can imagine some being tucked under robes for later - but more was left over than they started with. This also shows how God does not waste what He offers.

The number one religious song may be Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound, and this service of Holy Communion is that grace. Mankind longs for forgiveness, for salvation, for actual peace - not simply the world's peace. We hear references to that longing everywhere. And here it is, the Visible Word, symbolic of Jesus dying for our sins, but also conveying that forgiveness in giving us Christ.

And to every believing Christian, God gives us complete, full, and free forgiveness of sins each day, as the Catechism says. Some say, "Why so many Means of Grace? Isn't the sermon enough?" Why so many loaves and fishes - that is the same question in another context. Divine grace is always accompanied by abundance, and Creation shows us this abundance at all times.