On the Word
Unkind and condemning thoughts tell me that God's love is distant, cold or irrelevant, that I must prove myself to God and other people, that I am orphaned and unlovable, that God is tapping his toe, impatient with me, ready to walk out on me. These thoughts are loud enough that I need a human voice telling me, week in and week out, that they're lies. I need to hear from someone who knows me that there is grace enough for me, that Christ's work is on my behalf, even as I'm on my knees confessing that I've blown it again this week. We may confess quietly, even silently. But we are reminded of our forgiveness out loud, with standing and shouting. We need to be sure to hear it.
Forgiveness is from God, and yet I still need to be told I need to hear in a loud voice that I am forgiven and loved, a voice that is truer, louder, and more tangible than the accusing voices within and without telling me I'm not.
On the Sacrament
Of all the things he could have chosen to be done "in remembrance" of him, Jesus chose a meal. He could have asked his followers to do something impressive or mystical- climb a mountain, fast for forty days, or have a trip sweat lodge ceremony- but instead he picks the most ordinary of acts, eating, through which to be present to his people. He says that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood. He chooses the unremarkable a plain, average and abundant, bread and wine.
Both Word and Sacrament are gifts given by Jesus who calls himself the bread of life. The Word of God and the meal of God's people are intended to point to and make manifest the presence of Christ, who is worth the Word and the bread. In John 6, Jesus reminds his listeners that they received manna, their daily bread, as a gift from the Father, but that it was not enough to nourish them spiritually. They still died. But Jesus promises that those who eat "bread from heaven will be eternally nourished and will not die."