The place of worship - our nave - our sanctuary - our altar - is not just symbolic of God's presence. By the promise of Jesus the place where we gather together in His Name is the place where He comes into our midst to serve us (Matthew 18:20). Where He is, the Father and the Holy Spirit are present as well! His presence calls for our reverence and our respect as Moses experienced in the wilderness - "Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).
How do we take off our shoes to mark the holy ground of God's presence in the Divine Service? By invoking the presence of the Holy Trinity and speaking our "Amen" to His presence. By confessing our sin and receiving His holy Absolution. By giving reverent attention to His holy Word. By receiving in faith the holy body of Christ to eat and His holy blood to drink.
When it comes to the moment of the beginning and the end of the real presence, we don't pretend to determine that with watch in hand. The Lutheran view is that the consecrated bread is the body of Christ also when it lies on the altar or when the pastor holds it in his hand. It is not Scriptural to limit the real presence to the moment when the elements are orally received.
That is why the elements are treated as unique and holy not only until the last person has communed, but until the elements have been consumed. Since they were set apart by the words of the Risen Christ who has come into our midst to teach us and to feed us, they are used as He intends. The pastor and those assisting will take just a brief moment after the last person has communed to consume any that remains of the body and the blood that Jesus has set apart by His words of institution during that Divine Service. For the same reason the altar guild members treat with reverence the vessels in which the blood has been served to us. Not only the chalice, but also the individual glasses are rinsed with clear water and that water is placed on the ground. Then the vessels are cleaned more thoroughly for the next use.
God bless us all with reverent and joyful sense of the gifts that our heavenly Bridegroom comes to serve us His Bride. Amid all the passing treasures of this brief life - the treasures He bestows well up to eternal life (John 6).
Draw near and take the body of the Lord, And drink the holy blood for you out-poured;
Offered was He for greatest and for least, Himself the victim and hiimself the priest.
"God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). The one who does acts of mercy is to do so with cheerfulness (Romans 12:8).
The Greek word in both of these verses is hilarion (hilarious). The human heart cannot find such hilarity - such joy in giving - in itself! Gospel giving that is genuinely generous and genuinely joyous comes from a heart continually made new in Christ Jesus. Such hilarious giving pairs well with our singing of the Offertory in the Divine Service as we anticipate receiving the Lord's Supper - "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me..." The risen Lord who proclaims liberty to the captives is the one who comes to release us from captivity to greed and fear and what may seem like reasonable grumpiness when it comes to giving.
God loves a little hilarity! God also loves you! Christ gives cheerful geneorosity because He Himself is cheerfully generous with all the treasures of heaven!
I find to this day seven abominations in my heart: (1) An inclination to unbelief (2) Suddenly forgetting the love and mercy that Christ shows us. (3) A leaning to the works of the Law. (4) Wanderings and coldness in prayer. (5) Forgetting to watch for that which I have prayed for. (6) A tendency to murmur because I have no more, and yet a willingness to abuse what I have. (7) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust themselves upon me so that "When I would do good, evil is present with me." These things I continually see and feel and am afflicted and oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God orders them for my good. (1) They make me abhor myself. (2) They keep me from trusting my heart. (3) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness. (4) They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus. (5) They press me to pray to God. (6) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober. (7) And they provoke me to look to God, through Christ, to help me and carry me through this world. Amen. (Paul Bunyan)
Taken from Treasury of Daily Prayer - (CPH, 2008) - p. 113
The Man who sits at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1) insists on ruling, but the world will not put up with Him and says: "We will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:4). Yet He must rule for the sake of him who says: "Sit Thou at My right hand" (Psalm 110:1). Moreover, this King acts as if He were down and were being ruled over by everybody, as if He were completely impotent. And yet that which has been written stands: "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven and in earth" (Psalm 135:6). Who is wise? He who understnads this rule. (Dr. Martin Luther)
The Day of Pentecost initiated a miracle of speaking and hearing and washing and eating! Jesus had said it was to our advantage that He go away and send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). That advantage is immediately seen as His disciples boldly proclaimed the crucified and risen Christ and those who had crucified Him were cut to the heart! That advantage is wondrously seen in God's command to be baptized (washed) for the forgiveness of sins! That advantage is ongoingly seen as the Holy Spirit led the Church in steadfast devotion to the fellowship and the prayers that flowed from and were centered in the Apostle's Teaching and the Lord's Supper (breaking of bread) (Acts 2:42).
What an advantage for you - who have received the washing of rebirth (Titus 3) and been clothed with Christ (Gal 3)! What an advantage for you who have been gifted with faith by the Holy Spirit! What an advantage for you as the risen Christ comes each week to teach you (the Apostle's Doctrine) and to feed you (the breaking of bread)!
The means of the Holy Spirit have not changed since that first Pentecost! He brings Jesus to you with words and water and bread and wine! The gifts He gives you therein carry with them forgiveness of sins, life and salvation! The gifts He gives you carry with them an eternal advantage!
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And You, from both, as Three in One
That we Your name may ever bless
And in our lives the truth confess.
Praise we the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, with them One,
And may the Son of us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow!
(LSB - #498, Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest)