Saturday, October 6, 2012

the communion of the saints

I've been thinking about Communion, as the Church usually considers it: a holy sacrament that carries formal traditions. My home church in NC takes communion together weekly, my local church here in IN takes it quarterly, some friends go to a church that takes it annually, and I'm sure there are churches that fill up the spectrum of frequency and style, from high liturgical order with strong wine in goblets, to grassroots homechurches with grapejuice around a dining room table. My brother Kevan likes to lead communion at a local barbeque restaurant with friends breaking hush puppies.

We all have our own concept of how this sacrament should look, and I don't think it is something that should divide us in anyway... I'm pretty sure if we all agree that Jesus told us to do it, and we agree on why we do it, then we're in unity. But as I read the passages in the Gospels that talk about the Last Supper, I wonder if we have all made it a bit more formal and structured, and frankly, more complicated than Jesus ever intended it to be.

When Jesus wanted people to understand an important and spiritual truth, what did he do? He told stories and gave object lessons. Think about seeds, vines, buried treasure, houses on sand, bread, well water, fig trees, nets full of fish, wedding feasts, even the healing of the blind and crippled; all of these were ways that Jesus explained profound truths so that we could see and touch and wrap our earthly brains around them. God did this in the Old Testament too - think of people like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Jonah and Hosea, who lived out God's redemptive story in their own times. Yes, object lessons are one of the Father's specialties.

I wonder about that night when Jesus broke bread and told us it was like his body that he allowed to be broken for us... and when he poured a cup of wine and told us it was like his blood that he allowed to be spilled out for us... and when he sat around a table with his closest friends and shared this meal with them and told them to remember him as often as they did this. Did what? I'd assume bread and wine were not unusual elements for their daily meals... What if he was trying to give them a way to daily remember him, in their every day activities? Maybe the point was that there had never been anything really special about a simple meal before, and now he would use something basic and common that we all understand and relate to, to remind us of something profound and remarkable about our relationship with him.

While we all know it is important for the Redeemed in Christ - the saints of grace - to gather together to intentionally refocus ourselves collectively on the sacrifice made for us, I think we could and should apply it more and more often to our daily lifestyle. When we share spaghetti with our families or roommates, do we thank Him for his provision and share how that has been an active part of our day? When we eat pizza with friends, do we tell stories of how relationships are being restored and hearts are being changed? When we make s'mores around a campfire with neighbors, do we talk about how our lives are different because of the love and grace we've been given? When we munch on pretzels after school with students, do we disclose to them the secret to where our peace and hope come from? Do we take the opportunities when we are sitting together, sharing something delicious that sustains and energizes our bodies, to talk about our best friend who sustains and energizes our souls?

If so, and as often as we do, we fulfill Jesus' call to communion, until the day he returns.

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