Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Communion is a Family Meal


Dear Friends,

I am so grateful that I was raised in the mid-20th century when two parent families were the “norm.” In our middle-class home, my dad worked and my mom raised us kids, sewed my sister’s dresses, took care of the house, made dinner and even baked pies and cakes for desert every night. Our family ate dinner together at the table every night. No excuses. No exceptions. The only time I can remember being in my room during dinner was that time when I was being punished. Okay, that may have happened more than once. We would take turns saying grace before the meal. Then we would eat and talk. My dad would tell us about his day at work, my mom would talk about her day and we kids would talk about what happened at school. We often played word games. “Minister’s Cat”, the “Animal Name” game and the “Celebrity Name” game were favorites. We connected and bonded as a family over those nightly meals. 

Later on, when we kids had become “grown up” and moved out, we always returned to my mom and dad’s table for holidays, birthdays and sometimes for no reason other than to reconnect with our family. We ate, laughed, annoyed each other, teased, shared and still played our three favorite word games. If we were getting serious about anyone we were dating, they would be invited to a family dinner and were subjected without mercy or pity to the Minister’s Cat or the Animal game. How well they “played” with and interacted with our family would make or break a relationship.

What was “normal” when I was growing up is now considered to be “quaint and old-fashioned.” In the sixties, 73% of children lived with both parents. Today, only 46% of our nation’s children do. In the sixties, 80% of married women with children were “stay-at-home” moms. We have seen a complete reversal of that family dynamic today and 80% of women with children are now working in jobs outside the home. Moms come home worn out from their day and are often up late taking care of family, laundry, helping with homework and a dozen other necessary things. In busy families, dinners are hurried through and too often consist of something picked up at a fast food drive-through window. Ten years ago, only about 25% of families ate their meals together, but that number is increasing, and today more and more parents are seeing how very important it is for the family to eat dinner together.
  
Family meals are a blessing to be received and that’s why God drew us to His table for fellowship with Him. But it was rough-going at first. The disciples of Jesus were confused, upset and angry at what He had just told them. Jesus invited them to consume Him so that they would be made one with God! Did Jesus mean that literally or metaphorically? Jesus said that He was the living bread that had been sent from Heaven. He said that when we believe in Him and eat of this living bread, we will have eternal life. John 6:47-51

Jesus said that “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood” will live within Him and He will live within us. John 6:56. That made no sense to His disciples. Was Jesus talking about cannibalism when He said that they would consume His flesh and blood? 



A year later, Jesus stood at the head of a table and invited His disciples to share a Passover meal with Him. Jesus was about to forever change the concept of a family meal. That whole “eat My flesh..drink My blood” message at the synagogue in Capernaum was finally going to make sense to the disciples. Jesus picked up the bread and said, This is my body which is broken for you.” He picked up a cup of wine and said, This cup is the new covenant in My blood which was shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.” 1 Cor 11:23-26. See also Matt 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23.

New Hope Family Church is biblically-rooted in the doctrine and traditions of the early New Testament church and that’s why we partake of Holy Communion at every service. We also believe, as did the first century church, that the actual presence of Jesus is mysteriously imparted into the consecrated bread and wine and the elements are therefore not to be consumed in an unworthy manner. 1 Cor 11:27-32 We consume not just bread and wine; we consume the “Word” Himself John 1:1-5 As we feed in body and spirit, He lives in us and we live in Him. We become one with Him.

Communion is far more than just a church ritual. It’s a family meal. It brings us into the presence of God and into the presence of each other. Our family meal connects us with our Heavenly Father as it connects us with the person sitting next to us. Our family meal connects us with the entire body of Christ. It connects us with the Lutherans in the 9:30 service. It connects us with the Catholic church down the street, Saint Didacus. We are joining those on the dirt floor at the primitive church in Nigeria as they take Communion during their service. Our family meal connects us with the secret, underground house churches in China and joins us with the last remaining Orthodox monastery in Syria. We unite with believers throughout the world on Sunday morning as we all partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are one with God. We are one with each other. That’s why we call it a family meal.  Amen?

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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