February 2018

Salutary Gift for You

“Take, eat; this is My body….Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt. 26:26-28).

          “Salutary” is defined by Webster as having a beneficial effect. Synonyms include advantageous, good, profitable, helpful, valuable, and worthwhile. This year’s Midweek Lenten Services will be considering the salutary gift of the Sacrament of the Altar “…instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and drink” (Small Catechism). Note: the root word is salut—Latin for health.  To salute another person is to bid that person good health; officers and soldiers benefit when they are in good health.  

          This salutary gift was instituted during Jesus’ last formal teaching before His death and resurrection, on the night He was betrayed. He had the disciples gather for the Passover meal.  Christ started this gathering with instructing them to serve one another. He gave them an example on how to do this as He took the position of a lowly servant and washed their feet. That was His first mandate (maundy in Latin—hence Maundy Thursday).  He followed with two other mandates: “Take, eat; this is My body,” and “Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood.” These mandates were firm directives that Christians should not make light of or ignore. In Christ’s institution of the Sacrament of the Altar, He gave of Himself. It is proper to view this ceremony as His last will and testament as He was giving to His instructed followers.

          As you and I have, and/or will, receive gifts through a last will and testament, it is fitting to pay special attention to the details. It would be inconsiderate to not reverence the last will and testament of a gift coming to us from someone who loves us. There are many details involved with distributing gifts from loved ones. There are also many details that can be developed according to comfortable, orderly practices for the Sacrament of the Altar; however, let us consider the Biblical detail of what His salutary gift actually is.  We receive His body in, with, and under the form of bread, along with His blood in, with, and under the form of wine. I admit that the reality of Christ’s Word is higher than mankind’s thoughts and ways. This leads, or pushes, us to faith in Christ’s Word and not our senses alone. Our senses properly identify bread and wine. Our faith in Christ properly identifies Christ’s true body and blood. That truth is out of this world. Heaven is out of this world, and we are being assured of heaven in the Sacrament of the Altar, for Christ’s Words, “for the forgiveness of sins,” are attached to this sacrament. Now “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation” (Small Catechism). Christ’s salutary gift is actually His body, His blood, and His forgiveness for His instructed followers to eat, drink, and receive.

          The following are the titles for the Lenten messages that focus upon Christ’s salutary gift of the Sacrament of the Altar: Life-Giving Fruit, Bread from Heaven, Healing Medicine, Blest Communion, Rest for the Weary, Nuptial Feast, and Covenant Meal.  Blessings to you through this Lenten season as we evermore appreciate Christ’s salutary gift and His victorious resurrection.


The Lord be with you,

Pastor Sam Wiseman