Monday, October 8, 2007

"Do this in remembrance.of me."--Jesus


I wrote this after last month's celebration of the Lord's Supper. I read it yesteday before we broke bread:

I love communion. Why can’t every Sunday be the first Sunday of the month when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper? A month seems so long. The preparation and gathering itself is an act of worship. I love the beauty and reverence of the ordinance; I love the simplicity and intimacy of the communion.

I like fresh bread, not those little stale crackers they give you in some churches. I like when the pastor breaks from one loaf, even if it’s only a small a bun the pastor breaks symbolically. One died for all: all partake of one loaf. I like when the pastor pours the wine. I like even more when he does from a small glass pitcher and chalice. Seeing the red wine reminds me of the precious blood shed for you and me. I do like when the table is on the floor, not elevated on the stage. On the floor reminds me it’s not an altar. The sacrifice has already been made by our great High Priest Jesus. All are welcome to the table. Finally, I like candles on the table. Even little crystal tea-light candles luminate the plates and glisten through the wine pitcher. I’m not a fussy person but think an overly wrinkled tablecloth is a subliminal downer. I’ve been to some fastidious, formal churches. I have been to other churches where the communion service was merely an afterthought. Though I wishe my ritualistic friends would loosen up, I prefer their service over the ones that quickly slap it together. I like singers to quietly sing in the background while the elements are being passed. I don’t like the congregation to sing during its service.

What I love most about the service is the symbolism.

The past: The bread and wine remind me of Jesus’ humanity and deity. He’s not 50% human and 50% God; He’s 100% man and 100% God. The bread is common, something we see and use every day. Jesus was common; he had parents like you and me. He was born in humble circumstances on that Christmas day. But when I see that wine, it reminds me his blood was divine; he was born of a virgin. Only his blood was worthy to be shed for us. Everyone else’s blood was tainted by sin. Our master’s blood didn’t deserve death but was given freely as a New Covenant of peace between God and us. Praise God for Christmas! Praise God for Good Friday! Praise God for Easter! Praise the Lord!

The present: Along with the theological implications of remembrance, I appreciate the sociologic image of simply being together as a family. We’re all pausing from our busy schedules, together as a family, “sharing a meal together”. I wonder if the Lord didn’t command us to do this, would we ever stop from our busyness to together remember his sacrifice? Every time I receive the plate from my brothers and sisters I recall my baptism, my public profession done once and forever stating “I am a Christian”. Communion is done over and over reminding us of the baptism each of us received. Others are receiving baptism and communion as new believers come to Christ from our witness. We’re a community of new birth.

The future: Finally, the Lord’s Supper reminds me of Glory to come. Jesus said we should remember this ordinance until he returns. Maranatha! He is returning today! If he doesn’t return today, he will be here tomorrow—let’s be ready for him. Beyond that, there will be a great feast in heaven where we shall see him as he is. Communion is a foreshadow to what we will celebrate in heaven. God is good. Communion is good. I can't wait until next month.

8 comments:

Mike's America said...

Chip: thanks for your supportive comments at Dee's blog.

Yeah, I get very animated when I see people ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater but I've seen this sad play before and the perfect really is the enemy of the good.

Chip said...

Mike,
I never show my political stripes from behind the pulpit (lest anyone wonder). It's never the place for it. But I am with you on this one. I can tell by your writings you are gah-gah for none of the candidates but refuse to hand the White House over to the democratic machine. Like Dee I love Dobson but wish he would start talking up 2012 instead of unwittingly sabotaging 2008. I am as anti-abortion as you can get but I am also anti-a-sundry-of-other-things too.
We both get animated, but the Christophers ("Christ Bearers") sect of Catholicism stole a great quote from Confucius: "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness". Keep lighting candles by talking up reaganesque freedom and your love for America. I keep saying it, "I'll take Mike's America over John Edwards' America any day!"
Keep the faith. chip.

Mike's America said...

Thanks Chip. And very perceptive you are for understanding the meaning of my blog's title.

I wish we could find another Reagan. But I do recall that it wasn't until Reagan had been President for a while that we realized just how good he was.

I'll continue to tell all the folks who don't like candidate X,Y or Z to go out and work for one they can support more enthusiastically. But they won't get a receptive hearing from me (I'm undecided with some leanings) if they cannot pledge to support whoever the eventual nominee is.

It pains me greatly to see Dr. Dobson so publicly raise this issue of a third party candidacy which would surely result in the election of Hillary. It was a stupid thing to do and it appears he has too much pride to recognize that and apologize.

Oh well, I guess preachers aren't perfect either.

Thanks again for your support.

Chip said...

Mike said: "Oh well, I guess preachers aren't perfect either"

Look up "not perfect preacher" in the dictionary; my picture is next to it. I am the poster boy. But I do love this country and want to promote the freedom we enjoy. I would love to see Dr. JD make a 360 turnaround. Not from public or financial pressure but from internal rationality, and dare I say, "spirit-prompting". He would earn my respect bigtime. You and so many have reasoned what is at stake. There are only so many ways to say it until you are blue.

New thought: with the advent and success of AM talk radio, seminar callers developed. They were folks claiming to be republicans but end up trashing them 'in the end'. Is it possible "seminar bloggers" may arise? Folks doing the same as seminar callers but responding to this new medium in similar suit? If I were a seminar blogger, I would go nuts on the current divisions. Just a thought.

Timothy said...

Hi Chip,
good post on communion. I'm currently working on a paper for my session to encourage them to implement weekly communion. I will post bits and pieces on it over the coming weeks. The sacrament is far to important to relegate to the back burner.
Blessings

Chip said...

PT,
That is what I miss about being Catholic--weekly communion. A month is too, too long for me but it does keep it from becoming a perfunctory ritual. I hope you, the session, and your flock rediscover the joy in remembering the Lord's Supper. The group I have now is way cool. They want to break from tradition, even beyond my comfort zone. One of these days I will list some ways we will find new meaning in the sacrament (ordinance for us Baptists). We have chucked around tons of ideas. If I do list them, I will post them.

You made me think of Josiah. If I recall, this youthful, valiant King rediscovered the scriptures and reinstituted the Passover:

The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed. (2 Kings 23:21-22)

Josiah and his "flocks" reforms spared Judah the misery Israel experienced. I pray you and your group find the same rejuvenated joy, not just for your sake, but for your children's children too.
Keep the faith and let me know how that goes. It’s inspiring. pc.

Anonymous said...

Did ya'll forget what Jesus says that the bread and the wine actually IS?

The wine doesn't just REMIND you of blood...

And we partake of one loaf which IS Christ. We "are what we eat": the body of Christ.

You are correct. We should treat the elements with reverence and not just slap them down. Our attitude toward everything in a church service should teach people about Christ and His cross - Salvation won for us, faith given freely, forgiveness of all our sins.
The church services shouldn't be organized to give people and emotional or "spiritual" 'high', but to teach them about Christ and His Word. We should be more concerned about teaching the pure undiluted doctrine of Christ than making sure everybody's feathers are rubbed the right way.
When Christ's death is preached, faith follows and produces love for our neighbor which manifests itself in good deeds.
When our own actions (love, belief) are preached, people look to themselves and their own feelings for assurance of salvation instead of looking to what Christ does for us and gives to us.

I have no idea why I just ranted to you when I have never even met you before, but I happened to run across your blog while doing research and felt I had to spill this.

Chip said...

Thanks Anon!
Loved every word. Best wishes on your research.
chip.