The Relief of the Sacrament

Hello Paul, maybe this will answer your question on drinking the blood we had while chatting.

1 Corinthians 10:16.---'The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?'

In these days we need all the relief we can get, if we're to keep the right spirit. We have come to the long stretch of the road, with no turning in sight, all uphill. Naturally we test it again the various aids which have helped us in the past, especially our Bible, and the use of prayer and the Christian fellowship. For we know that from the unseen comes the most such certain relief. It grows both more difficult and more necessary to use these helps for our spirit which are the channels of the Holy Spirit. But they all stand the test. Still we need more. Have we sought it as we might in the Sacrament of Holy Communion?

The Sacrament is the clearest way of witnessing to our Lord. It is the hall-mark of loyalty to Him, to the graciousness and importance of His death, to the reality of Christian brotherhood. That is what drew some of us to it at first. We were very ignorant and very vague, but we were quite sure of one thing---we had to confess our Lord before men. This was the unmistakable way. But this Sacrament has another side, much more important. To use the old term, it is a means of grace, a channel of relief, God's opportunity as well as ours. He desires it so as to benefit us, more than we ever desire it to glorify Him. It is a place to receive, a place of restoration and renewal and refreshment. Think of the words 'the cup of blessing.' That surely means more than the cup of our thanksgiving. It is a cup of God's benevolence.

When we think of the relief of the Sacrament we may view it in two ways at best: [1] its adaptability to the Divine truth it expresses; [2] its adaptation to the human nature, to which it brings blessing.

Think first of its suitability to express the sovereign truths about our Lord. It is His way of telling again all down the centuries the story of His splendid death. When the bread is broken the action tells again of His broken body. When the wine is poured, we are told again of the outflow of His blood. It is as if He with His own lips told us the essentials of the story, and with an intimate personal appeal. 'Broken for you' are the words of Scripture, and to every loyal heart they declare the immediate and present influences of the great death died so long ago. It is true that our Lord, before He died, said but little about His death in the way of explanation or of application, but by the establishment of this Sacrament He took care of that of that fact, ever more important than the theory, should never be forgotten. The centuries gone or blotted out and the deed upon the Cross is again seen by wondering eyes, wheresoever the Christ's disciples gather to His observance. And it may be that often we understand it as the first beholders did not, their eyes clouded with sorrow, their hearts heavy with apprehension. Here our Lord presents anew to us the transcended fact of His death.

More than this, its suitability to the Divine truth it expresses its shown because it tells so clearly His present availableness. What did that death mean? Not simply that all that needed to be done was done that we might be welcomed to forgiveness, but that it released Him to be available in His own personality to every true seeker. His whole personality, perfected in obedience, complete in sacrifice, is available for each of us. We are not mere beholders, we are partakers. 'Eat,' Drink thereof,' are the words in our ears. The broken bread of which we partake means His body and the Personality of which His body was the outward appearance; the poured-out wine of which we partake means His blood, and His blood, the vehicle of life, was the symbol of His life. Therefore when the bread in the wine enter into our bodies this is the plain and unmistakable assurance, that He, His personality, His life are available for us. So far as He can, so far as we make it possible for Him---for there's nothing magical here, but the living interaction of two personalities---so far as He can, He bestows Himself upon us for the daily struggle, the awaited sorrow, the renewed temptation. Union with Him becomes a simple, shining fact here.

But secondly, consider how perfectly adapted this sacrament is to the need of our human nature. Two things we suffer from in all our inward life---monotony and vagueness. Day after day we have to struggle on with much the same kind of incident in our intercourse with the Unseen. Day after day, too, the spiritual facts are, for a good many of us, like a fog-bank, real and hiding something still more real but dim. This sacrament deals effectually with these two disabilities. It removes monotony by giving focal points of spiritual experiences, mountain peaks on the journey, a little troublesome to climb, but vastly rewarding.

Most of us have not live long before we discover what things stir our hearts most. For some to revisit the old birthplace, for others an ancient grave. There we can feel again; solemnity comes upon us and vitality. We shake off the dust which has gathered on mind and soul. For some of us, again, to hear the splash or the roar of the waves, to smell odorous sea, always gives the sense of space and vision. For others, is the hills; the dim blue outline makes our hearts leap up, and then to follow the upward path, away into the silences, the only companions a few sheep cropping on the turf, means release and freedom. These are focal moments of experience. If we are wise to seek them on our holidays. It is the spirit more than the body, or least as much as the body, which needs refreshment. And in such moments we get it.

Our Lord knew this. He knew the danger of dullness in the religious life, the constant plodding, a little forward, a little backward, less backward than forward, still little less forward than we had hoped. So He gives us special moments. This Sacrament is Christ's meeting place with us. His appointed meeting; for more prolonged talk, for quiet waiting together.

The further proof of adaptation to human need is this. Most of us are greatly helped by outward acts to make inward facts more real. We need the life jacket if we are to swim easily in the rough water. Symbols are the life jacket. The marriage ring does not make marriage more of a fact. But the marriage ring helps every wife to know the reality of the married life and the holiness of her vow. The Sacrament of Communion is the marriage ring of the union of the soul with God in Christ Thus for our relief this sacrament is perfectly suited to teach the Divine truth and to meet the mould of our human nature. We on our side have a responsibility. The saying of the old mystic stands true, never truer than today, "All that happened to Christ must happen to His disciples." For us there is a crucifixion, a death, a renewal. Once, many times, always, there must be a dying to self. For us, too, there is to be always a rising with Him to win victories, many resurrections from deep distresses and heavy castings down. Our valleys of Achor are to be doors of hope.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha