The Word and the sacrament go together. Without the sacrament, the Word by turns gradually evolves into mere lecturing, or, if it is excited, a hectoring of God’s people.
On the other hand, the sacrament without the Word gradually turns to superstitious and blind observance, at the end indistinguishable from rank paganism.
The two go together. But the Word is not to be understood as a brief set of instructions, or a mini-lecture. Rather, think of the Word that accompanies the sacrament as the word of faith.
As the word of faith, the word accomplishes that for which it was designed by God. And when the Word is faithfully stated at this point in the service, it startles, as it should. But some try to avoid being startled by two unfaithful alternatives. The first is to change the Word so that it goes down smoothly. This is what happens when you are told that the sacrament is all about religion, with that religion defined by what you do and are in your solitude. Here the sacrament is all about you and your conscience. But the Word is adulterated by this means.
The other is to say true things, but to say them over and over again, all in the same way, in a soothing and comfortable way, so that the words wear a groove in your soul, and you no longer need pay attention. Unbelief has often masqueraded as liturgical fidelity to the old paths.
But here is the Word of God. Take and eat. Take and drink. For by this means, accompanied by a faithful word, you are building a City. And it is not an invisible, ethereal City either.
So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.