Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tonight Holy Thursday March 28 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine at Good Shepherd Chapel at Concordia University Irvine 7 pm

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please remember and help me spread the word that we meet tonight at 7 pm at the Good Shepherd Chapel on top of the gorgeous campus of Concordia University at one of the most inspiring locations in south county. The chapel is marked by a cross and is very chapel-like on the edge of the hill overlooking Irvine (along the main perimeter road of the campus).
Holy Thursday service begins at 7 pm.
How exciting it is to be in the crux of Holy Week and to offer this extraordinary service on the night that Jesus was betrayed when He gave His Supper for His people.
I will remind you that you are in a battle. It is a battle against your own sinful nature, the evil temptations and influences in the world, and against the devil himself (along with his demons who do his bidding). No this is not an outdated and unrealistic world view…it is rather reality. The Christian can feel the battle every, single day.
So how does God protect us? The answer is straightforward (here I list the “big 3” if you will):
1) Through His Word
2) Through prayer
3) Through the fellowship and encouragement of fellow believers
In this service tonight you will receive all three, but you will also receive what is probably the single most important gift of the Word to keep you vigilant in your faith: The Holy Supper originally instituted on this holy night.
Keep in mind that we are commencing what is really one large service in three parts: Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) which continues on Good Friday which continues on Easter Sunday. Come and start the entire service tonight!
I hope to see you tonight at the Good Shepherd chapel at Concordia University at 7 pm. Bring a friend and help spread the Word that Jesus has come and still comes for His people!
Here is an excerpt from tonight’s sermon:


“For You” (Luke 22:20)

Rev. Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. Our salvation, our being rescued from our sin, the evil influences of the world, and from the devil himself is bound-up in this Holy Sacrament also known as “Holy Communion,” “The Eucharist,” “The Lord’s Supper,” and “The Sacrament of the Altar.” As a matter of fact, there is an even more primitive and pristine reference to the Holy Supper in Acts 2:42 when it is described in the context of first-century Christian worship as quite simply “The Breaking of Bread.”


And if there has ever been a time that we need this gift of the Lord’s Supper in our lives and in the Church today in this world today, then it is now. Furthermore, so that we can truly appreciate our very great need for the Lord’s Supper, we mustn’t be naïve about what has occurred in terms of Christianity in America which probably has had a more profound influence on us than we realize. I can tell you this (and I don’t think anyone here tonight will be surprised) that the substance of American Christianity is not what we believe in and practice in this congregation, but is hands-down American Evangelicalism. In this popular way of thinking, Holy Communion is nothing other than and merely a holy and reverential remembrance or memorial of the blessed sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. We of course do not deny the symbolic significance of the Holy Supper, but it is much, much more than that. For in this Supper, poor sinners like you and me, receive Jesus Himself.


The popular Christian culture, however, doesn’t like this idea. It insists that if Jesus is Lord in your life which is to say that you have already received Jesus, then it is therefore non-sense that you would need to continue receiving Him over and over again. “Make up your mind already poor Lutherans. Have you or have you not received the Lord Jesus Christ [so goes the tricky argument which is a classic either-or fallacy of logic]? If you have, then boldly proclaim that you are born-again and do not make Communion something more than what it actually is: it is simply affirming what you already know and what you already have.” So goes a representative complaint against what is perceived as formalism, traditionalism, and institutionalism.


These are terrible temptations which would work to rob you of the great intended benefit of the Lord’s Supper which far surpasses mere symbolism and memorialism. Again, we are bold to proclaim the truth: Jesus comes to you in this Sacrament over and over again…and it isn’t good enough to reduce this to a metaphorical meaning; it isn’t even good enough to reduce this to a so-called “spiritual” meaning…none of these will suffice. The body and blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary which became living again from the dead is the SAME body and blood that is actually, truly, and miraculously given to you when you receive the bread and wine of the Sacrament today. Jesus said, “This is my body…this is my blood.” You receive Jesus’ body into your mouth when you receive the Communion bread; and you receive Jesus’ blood into your mouth when you receive the Communion wine. Again, mere symbolism and memorialism doesn’t cut the mustard, doesn’t fit the bill, and doesn’t hold water. The compromising teaching of the popular crowd won’t work and frankly it assumes that our God of miracles is suddenly unable to perform them.


This greater reality is not just a “Lutheran thing.” Long before the Christian denominations, the early Church took seriously the plain and simple teaching of God’s Word. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, professed his faith in Christ before Emperor Trajan and was subsequently condemned to the wild beasts in A.D. 107. I wonder how Ignatius valued and considered the Holy Supper? Well, he wrote of it in his Epistle to the Ephesians: “Stand fast, brethren, in the faith of Jesus Christ, and in His love, in His passion, and in His resurrection. Do ye all come together in common, and by name, through grace, in one faith of God the Father and of Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son…breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote which prevents us from dying, but a cleansing remedy driving away evil, [which causes] that we should live in God through Jesus Christ.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 1, p. 57)

In Your Service and To Christ’s Glory,
Pastor Espinosa
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