Communion Letter July 17th
On Sunday, we will participate in proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes again by celebrating the Lord’s Supper together. In the broken bread and poured out cup, we remember the death of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and the blood of the new covenant providing newness of life. Entrance to the table is based solely on our true repentance from our sins and confession of Christ alone as Savior by God’s grace alone. Given this, it would be good for us to meditate on what true repentance looks like as revealed by King David in Psalm 51 as he stood amid the ashes from the fires of his murderous lust and self serving sins. (1)
David opens Psalm 51 with supplication based on what he knows to be true about God: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” True repentance recognizes that forgiveness is not based on any quality or attribute of the supplicant but finds its whole ground in the attributes of God, such as abundant mercy and steadfast love. David goes on to appeal for a full pardon: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” This means that God’s merciful forgiveness is total and complete rendering our iniquity utterly unworthy of our continued guilt, shame, and rumination. True repentance recognizes that once our sin has been cast as far as the east is from the west that God will never dredge it up again and neither should we. From this firm foundation of God’s forgiveness, David confesses an understanding of the gravity of his sin and brokenness that leaves him unable to save himself: “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” True repentance confesses that our sin is not merely personal or private but offensive to God leaving us without excuse or the ability to save ourselves given our depravity from the start. David goes on to plead for restoration of relationship with God in newness of life: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” David understands that his sin has separated him from God and that only God can restore him free from the weight of his sin. Our repentance is true when our main desire is not to escape the consequences of our sin out of fear but that we would be reconciled to our Father who loves us and brings us great joy in abundance of life! As a result of God’s forgiveness, David professes these truths to others: “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver my bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” David recognizes that his forgiveness has not been granted for him alone and that it must be shared for the redemption of others. We too should share the story of God’s love as evidenced in our changed lives through true repentance and forgiveness in Christ. True repentance should lead us to make disciples as we have been made through grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone.
As you prepare for the Lord’s Supper, consider your repentance and life in light of Psalm 51. Do you understand that your forgiveness is based completely on the character of God and is unaffected by who you are and what you have done or not done? Do you understand that your forgiveness is total and that guilt and shame no longer have a true place in your life? Are you enjoying the fruit of true repentance and taking joy in your reconciliation with God? Has all of this led you to share this beautiful story with others? Take heart if you are struggling with the answer to or the reality of any of these questions. The bread and cup will serve to nourish you in and remind you of these truths so that you can share your broken and contrite heart with others! Come to the table with joy and expectancy that God who so loved you in Christ will bring forth the fruit of your true repentance!
(1) Many thanks to the group of men who gather on Tuesday morning to wrestle with the things of God from which these meditations on true repentance in Psalm 51 were cultivated.