O bread of life from heaven,
O food to pilgrims given,
O manna from above:
feed with the blessed sweetness
of your divine completeness
the souls that want and need your love.
O fount of grace redeeming,
O river ever streaming
from Jesus' wounded side:
come now, your love bestowing
on thirsting souls, and flowing
till all are fully satisfied.
We love you, Jesus, tender,
in all your hidden splendor
within these means of grace.
Oh, let the veil be riven,
and our clear eye in heaven
behold your glory face to face.
The words I preach as a pastor don't always connect. While I trust that the Holy Spirit speaks God's word through me, sometimes it's the "through me" part that gets in the way. There are more times than I care to admit when I watch the words of my mouth meet the glossy-eyed, blank stares of confused parishioners. In those times I am most thankful for the meal. Even when the words don't connect, even when the hymns fall flat, even when the prayers seem empty, the bread is there to "fill the souls that want and need Christ's love."
Luther called this sacrament many things: a ford, a bridge, a door, a ship, a stretcher. There is a beautiful range in these images. Sometimes the sacrament offers a path by which we confidently reach out for mercy and salvation. But sometimes--when our strength fails--the sacrament is the very thing that carries us to the fountain of Christ's love.
We thank you, Jesus, for the bread. We thank you for giving us something to touch, taste, smell and feel. Through the bread, carry us into eternal life. Amen.