This is the reading that was done just before Communion on Sunday Dec. 26th
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O grave, where is your?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55)
“When death life did battle, that was a singular strife. But death was overcome, and the victory won by life.”
You are invited to a victory celebration, to the celebration of the greatest victory that has been won in the world, to the celebration of Jesus’ victory over death. Bread and wine, body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are the signs of victory; for in them, Jesus is present and alive today, the same man who was crucified on the cross and laid in the grave almost two thousand years ago. Jesus arose from the dead; He forced open the tombstone; Jesus remained the victor. You, however, are to receive the signs of His victory today. And when you receive the blessed bread and cup in just a short while, then you are to know at the same time, as assuredly as I eat this bread and drink this wine, Jesus Christ has remained victor over death, He is the living lord who meets us.
In our lives we don’t speak readily of victory. It is too big a word for us. We have suffered too many defeats in our lives; victory has been thwarted again and again by too many weak hours, too many gross sins. But isn’t it true that the spirit within us yearns for this word, for the final victory over the sin and anxious fear of death in our lives? And now God’s Word also says nothing to us about our victory; it doesn’t promise us that we will be victorious over sin and death from now on; rather, it says with all its might that someone has won this victory, and that this person, if we have him as lord, will also win the victory over us. It is not we who are victorious, but Jesus.
We proclaim that today and believe it despite all that we see around us, despite the grave of our loved ones, despite the moribund nature outside, despite the death that the war brings upon us again. We see the supremacy of death; yet we proclaim and believe the victory of Jesus Christ over death. Death is swallowed up in victory. Jesus is the victor, the resurrection of the dead, and the everlasting life.
Jesus’ victory is proclaimed to you once again today; it is victory over sin and death for you. Today Jesus will once again forgive you all your serious and multiple sins, he will make you wholly pure and innocent; sin won’t rule over you anymore. Jesus will rule over you, and he is stronger than every temptation.
In the last century, there was a man of God who had preached often in the course of his life about the victory of Jesus Christ, and who had done wonderful things. As he lay on his deathbed, as he lay in great torment and agony, his son bent down to his ear and cried out to the dying man: Father, victory is won. When dark hours come, and when the darkest hour comes upon us, then let us hear the voice of Jesus Christ, which cries in our ears: victory is won. Death is swallowed up in victory. Be comforted. And God grant that we may be able to say then: I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. In this belief, let us live and die. To that end, we take the Holy Communion. Amen.