Self-examination before Holy Communion (Sept. 8)

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Since we will gather for worship on Sunday and partake of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins, it is indeed good and right that we examine ourselves in accord with 1 Cor. 11:28-29: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

We do so this week on the basis of God’s commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

Luther, in his Small Catechism, explains this commandment: “We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”

So, we ask ourselves and consider how we have used God’s name in our lives. Have we cursed with God’s name or made foolish and unnecessary oaths? Have we used God’s name to practice witchcraft or in another superstitious manner? Have we lied or deceived by God’s name by swearing falsely or by misrepresenting and misusing God’s Word? Have we spoken God’s name and words of praise when our hearts really weren’t into it?

And, have we used God’s name rightly to bring God praise and glory? Or, are our words empty and mere lip service? Have we truly brought glory to God’s name by all we say and do? Or do our lives bring Him shame and disservice? Do we faithfully proclaim His Word, or do we abuse and twist God’s Word to our own liking?

Do we remember to call upon God in prayer, trusting that He will hear and answer us in accord with His perfect will? Do we give Him praise and thanksgiving for His goodness and mercy toward us? Or, do we neglect to pray, to praise and to give thanks unto Him?

God’s commandment reveals not only God’s will for us but our sinfulness and failure to do as God desires and demands. We have failed both by misusing God’s name and by not using God’s name rightly to bring Him praise and glory. And the commandment says: “the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Again, God’s good commandment condemns us because of our sin. We stand guilty before God and under His wrath.

But God, in His love, sent His only-begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary a true man, that He might fulfill this commandment for us and then bear the guilt and punishment for our sins. Christ Jesus brought glory to God’s name by His prayers, by his faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word and by His obedience to God’s will — even to the point of bearing our sins and suffering and dying on the cross in our stead that we might be pardoned and forgiven through faith in Jesus’ name.

And so, I ask you before God: Have you sinned against God by using His name in vain, by dishonoring God’s name in your thoughts, desires, words and actions? Have you sinned by neglecting to pray, by using vain repetitions, by failing to give God the thanks and praise due unto His holy name? And do you desire, with the help and aid of God the Holy Spirit, to amend your life and use God’s name rightly and to bring Him glory and praise?

If this is your sincere confession, I announce unto you the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and I, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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