First, let’s remember that all words and actions in the liturgy are intended to focus our attention on Christ Jesus and His saving deeds for us. Basically, we want to ask how and what the words and actions of the liturgy say about Jesus Christ in one way or another.
Second, let me say what is not happening when I elevate the host and the chalice during the Words of Institution. It does not mean that we are offering some kind of “unbloody sacrifice” of the Body and Blood of Jesus to God the Father. That went out with the Reformation.
So, what does the elevation mean? Here’s the third and main point to answer the question. The elevation of the host and the chalice essentially says, “Look, there He is! There’s the Lord whose glory fills the earth—in that bread and in that cup!” Since I face the altar when I say the Words of Institution (by direction of the LSB Altar Book), elevating the host and the chalice at their respective times gives you, the worshipers, the opportunity to see the elements and say, “That’s the bread that’s been consecrated to be Christ’s Body for us; that’s the cup that carries the consecrated Blood of Christ for us.” It gives you, the worshipers, the chance to appreciate and focus on the gift that our Lord is about to give you at the altar: Himself.
Martin Luther did advise keeping the elevation in his service orders of 1523 and 1526. Here’s what he said in 1526:
“We do not want to abolish the elevation, but retain it because it goes well with the German Sanctus [see LSB 960] and signifies that Christ has commanded us to remember him. For just as the sacrament is bodily elevated, and yet Christ’s body and blood are not seen in it, so he is remembered and elevated by the word of the sermon and is confessed and adored by reception in the sacrament. In each case he is apprehended only by faith; for we cannot see how Christ gives his body and blood for us and even now daily shows and offers it before God to obtain grace for us” (Luther’s Works, vol. 53, p. 82).Philip Pfatteicher also gives this helpful note in his book, Manual on the Liturgy: “The gestures [of elevating the host and the chalice] are not so much to imitate what Jesus did at the Last Supper as to connect his words of promise visually with this bread and this cup” (p. 239).