Tuesday, June 16, 2009

6/17 Word and Sacrament

(mirror image of Da Vinci's Last Supper)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

6/17- Word and Sacrament

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:23-27)
Calvin: A sacrament is…a testimony of divine grace toward us, confirmed by an outward sign, with mutual attestation of our piety toward him. Or as Augustine said…a visible form of an invisible grace. A sacrament is never without a preceding promise but is joined to it as a sort of appendix, with the purpose of confirming and sealing the promise itself. The word must explain the sign. Augustine said ..”Let the word be added to the element and it will become a sacrament.” You see how the sacrament requires preaching to beget faith. The promise is sealed by the sacraments. Each confirms the other. The sacraments are like a right hand given after a covenant is signed. They are mirrors in which we may contemplate the riches of God’s grace. The sacraments are exercises which make us more certain of the trustworthiness of God’s Word. (IV. 14.1-5 selections)

For Calvin the two signs of the true church are where the Word is rightly preached and the sacraments truly administered. The Word and sacrament go together. The word explains the sign. We could see the octagonal red sign and know that it means for us to quit travelling. But the word on the sign, “STOP” adds to the importance and urgency of the sign. The heavens may be telling the glory of God as a sign, but the ultimate Word made flesh in Jesus speaks volumes about who God is. Word and sacrament lend power to each other. So when you go to church, do not just concentrate on the sacraments and not on the Word of God. Do not simply listen to the Word preached but not pay attention to the sacrament. This is one important reason why going to church is so important. You may get the word by a blog or a podcast, but the sacrament takes someone else administering it to you- with the love of Christ and the church represented.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to see the visible signs of your invisible grace.

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