Almighty and merciful God, it is by Your grace that we live as Your people who offer acceptable service. Grant that we may walk by faith, and not by sight, in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
It was one of those things that happen sometimes. The woman who prepared the altar for Sunday services had gotten distracted in the middle of her preparations and something got missed. While the congregation sang the offertory, I opened the pyx, which is the name of that little box-like thing which holds the hosts for the Lord’s Supper; it was empty. In a few moments I was supposed to consecrate the hosts which were supposed to be in that pyx.
I am the son of an old altar guild hand, so I ducked into the sacristy, opened the appropriate cupboard, filled the pyx, and returned to the altar. I am not sure that many folks in the congregation that day saw me, but she did. She came up to me after the service and asked what happened. I laughed and told her that the pyx had been empty and I filled it. She was mortified. I put my arm around her and said, “Listen, you and I will make all sorts of mistakes in the course of our service, but Jesus never does. Today in this Supper, He forgave the sins of everyone who partook of the Sacrament.”
We acknowledge in this prayer that it is only by God’s grace that our service is acceptable to God. That does not mean we don’t pay attention or that our service does not matter, on the contrary, it matters more and so we are even more diligent. It also means that even if we fail or forget or simply mess up, Jesus will still get His good and gracious will done and His wonderful kingdom will come. I could not stand at an altar and handle holy things without that promise from Him. Know for yourself that the words you speak, the deeds you do, the service you render, is never acceptable on your merits alone, but always because he has made it so by his grace. The angels will always sing, pray, and serve better than you, but God delights in your service and singing and promises to work through you despite your failings and your sin.