This is My Body

My earliest church experience was in a small King James Baptist Church.  I loved that congregation.  They did many things for me, but most importantly they introduced me to Jesus.  The pastor there was a man by the name of Jimmy Daniels.  I do not know anything about his theological training (if he had any –a lot – none whatsoever – I do not know). What I do know is that he loves (I am assuming he is still alive and well) the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the key things I learned at Berea Baptist Church was that the Bible is reliable and is to be believed.  What is says is the truth.  What Jesus says is the truth.  What the various other writers, such as the Apostle Paul, is the truth.  It is all the LITERAL truth.  For these reasons, we are to base our beliefs, our lives,and our worship on exactly what it says in the Bible without additions or (in this essay more importantly)any subtractions.

With all of that said, the truth is we subtracted a lot from worship.  Things that are in the Bible.  Not just that they are in the Bible but that they are commanded in the Bible for Christians as things to do.  There are whole sections of the Bible which were either ignored or explained away – not taken literally, even though that is what we, as members, were taught to do.  Primarily these omissions revolved around the Sacraments.  Both Baptism and the Eucharist (dutifully referred to as the Lord’s Supper) were demoted from Sacraments to symbolic observances.

Being a young child and a young Christian, I had no idea.  The pastor said it and he had the authority of the church so he was right.  Why should I ever question his teaching that said that nowhere in the Bible are Christians taught that the bread and wine of Holy Communion are really Jesus’ Body and Blood?

As a newly minted “Bible Believing” Christian I rest assured that such an idea as the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament was nothing more than superstitious beliefs of non-Christian Roman Catholics. I believed whole-heartedly such anti-sacramental (and downright hateful)propaganda as is disseminated by the likes of Jack Chick in his “Chick Tracts.”  I accepted (and for a long time after being able to read and discern for myself) persisted in the belief that as a “Bible Believer,” I must be a Sacrament rejecter.
(the Gospel of John 6:51-56)

Then,I decided to honestly read the Bible using the priorities that I held dear but first removing the firmly in place anti-sacramental bias.  It was a harsh eye-opening.  What Jesus told His followers (including me)ran directly opposite of what I had been taught for decades.

Jesus said to His followers: I am the living bread that came down from heaven.If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” … “Truly, truly, I say to you,unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

Jesus did not mince words and He gave no indication that He was not speaking literally.  In fact, when many took Him literally and stopped following Him  – He let them go.

John chapter 6 verse 66 reads, After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
(I do not wish to suggest that those who deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist are spawn of satan or anything,but it is a curious case of numerology there).

OK,you are not convinced.  To be honest, neither was I.  Obviously,Jesus was speaking metaphorically – symbolically.  Just like in other passages in which He compares Himself to tangible objects – a gate, a door, etc.  This was able to assuage my need to believe Jesus literally and at the same time – Not believe what He said.

Then I read the Apostle Paul and his letter to the Church in Corinth.  In what we now know as the 11th chapter beginning with the 27th verse we read: whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

I never read past the 28th verse – let a man examine himself…  By only reading the snippet that agreed with my denial of what Jesus plainly says about our eating His body and drinking His blood, I could persist in my disbelief.  I could persist in my explaining it all away as symbolic.  Then one day I read the 29th verse which reads: For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

Now it became too much.  I could not deny the plain words of Jesus any longer.  I do not know how but I do know that I take Jesus at His word and that means through some amazing power of God ordinary bread and wine become the Real Body and Blood of Jesus given for us for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I know that a singular crucifixion which occurred on the distinct day of the 3rd of April AD 33 is the earthly occurrence of the perpetual present tense sacrifice of the Lamb Slain before the foundation of the World (see Revelation 13:8).  And,I know that through the real presence of the sacrificed Body and Blood of Jesus we are made beneficiaries of that sacrifice now, today.

Believing in the Real Presence of the Body of Blood of Christ in the Eucharist does not make you a Roman Catholic.  Believing in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist makes you a Christian who really does believe what Jesus says.

So the Question is – Do you believe Jesus?

Pax et Bonum,
Fr Steve

the Very Rev’d Dr SG Rindahl
Steve on Twitter 
www.StevenRindahl.com 
www.StFrancis.Church

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Why Are You Dressed Like That? Part 6

Welcome to: Why are you dressed like that? Part 6 – What is that weird silk bracelet thingy on your wrist?  This is a series of entries motivated by a young girl who visited us at St Francis Church and said to me: Why are you dressed like that?

Image result for maniple vestmentFirst, I invite you to Part 1 where you will you can read my disclaimer as to the accuracy of any assigned values to vestments.  If you do not want to go to that entry, the disclaimer is also copied at the end of this installment.

In Part 5, I discussed the Zucchetto and Biretta – two different types of hat your priest may be wearing when in vestments.  In this installment, I will discuss the Maniple Continue reading

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Why Are You Dressed Like That? Part 5

Welcome to: Why are you dressed like that? Part 5 – What is on your head?  This is a series of entries motivated by a young girl who visited us at St Francis Church and said to me: Why are you dressed like that?

First, I invite you to Part 1 where you will you can read my disclaimer as to the accuracy of any assigned values to vestments.  If you do not want to go to that entry, the disclaimer is also copied at the end of this installment.

In Part 4, I discussed the Chasuble – that poncho-like garment the priest wears when celebrating the Eucharist.  In this installment, I will discuss the zucchetto and biretta.

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Zucchetto by House of Hansen http://www.thehouseofhansen.com

The zucchetto is the small skullcap which is nearly identical to Continue reading

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Why Are You Dressed Like That? Part 4

Welcome to: Why are you dressed like that? Part 4.  This is a series of entries motivated by a young girl who visited us at St Francis Church and said to me: Why are you dressed like that?

First, I invite you to Part 1 where you will you can read my disclaimer as to the accuracy of any assigned values to vestments.  If you do not want to go to that entry, the disclaimer is also copied at the end of this installment.

Image result for chasuble

St Francis on the front with Crosses on the Back www.Chasubles24.com

In Part 3, I discussed the Stole and the Tippet – those scarf like items hanging around a priest’s neck.  In this installment, I will discuss the next layer of vestments, the Chasuble. The chasuble is the poncho-like garment the priest wears when celebrating the Eucharist.

Before going further I will point out that if your priest is Continue reading

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Why Are You Dressed Like That? Part 3

Welcome to: Why are you dressed like that? Part 3.  This is a series of entries motivated by a young girl who visited us at St Francis Church and said to me: Why are you dressed like that?

Image result for priest stole

Image from Pintrest

First, I invite you to Part 1 where you will you can read my disclaimer as to the accuracy of any assigned values to vestments.  If you do not want to go to that entry, the disclaimer is also copied at the end of this installment.

In Part 2, I discussed the Alb/Surplice/Cotta – those white gowns/robes that priests wear over their black street clothes and/or cassocks.  Next comes that scarf hanging around their necks – what is that and why wear it?

There are actually a couple of different things your priest may be wearing around his neck.  Almost all liturgical churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and even some Protestant denominations) make use of the Stole.  In the Anglican Church, there is also Continue reading

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Why Are You Dressed Like That? Part 2

Wearing a surplice for a baptismal service at an Army chapel.

Welcome to: Why are you dressed like that? Part 2.  This is a series of entries motivated by a young girl who visited us at St Francis Church and said to me: Why are you dressed like that?  Continue reading

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Why Are You Dressed Like That? Part 1

The little girl asked me – Why are you dressed like that?

It is an understandable question.  She had never seen a priest in vestments before.  Not only that – even if she had, it is unlikely that she Continue reading

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The Atonement

The Atonement is about us being one with God.  In fact, a good way to understand the word is – At-One-Ment.  If the word atonement is all about being one with God why do so many people fight about what it means? Continue reading

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Forgiveness

Tau Cross Confessional in the Church of Mary over Minerva, Assisi, Italy

Through my career as a chaplain in the Army I heard more than a few people say: God cannot forgive me.  The people who said this had a wide range of offenses that they believed were unforgivable by God.  There were cases of sexual Continue reading

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Eve and Mary

It is important to remember while studying the Bible that in the New Testament we have a record (sometimes direct and sometimes indirect – today’s example is indirect) of Jesus Continue reading

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