Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Holy Communion - God Within Us

Dear Friends,

We call it Holy Communion and are reminded it is through this sacrament that we enter into communion – a oneness – with God and He becomes “God with us” Matt 1:23. We call it the Eucharist and are reminded as we are taken into His Presence that our only possible response is undiminished thankfulness: “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Cor 9:15. We call it the Lord’s Supper to remind us that this sacrament is God’s grace conveying His spiritual nutrition which strengthens, sustains, refreshens and renews us. The One who feeds us said, “This cup is the new Covenant in My blood which was shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” 1 Cor 11:25; Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20 

It may be difficult to absorb the significance of these words that we have heard so many times. But it was at that very moment that Jesus changed forever the covenant between God and the ones who He created. The old was a covenant of law. The New Covenant is the covenant of grace. All who repent and believe in Jesus Christ will have everlasting life. The blood of Jesus... Shed for you... For the forgiveness of your sins... The apostles that night were astonished and astounded at hearing those words. Are you? 

New Hope Family Church places Holy Communion at the very center of our service. All else that we do – worship..prayers..sermon – revolves around the Eucharist – the Great Thanksgiving. We join our voices in a reading of scripture. We come into His presence with our offerings of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. There are times when we just want to linger in our worship of Him – when the presence of the Holy Spirit is touching us in those places where we need His healing. Then it’s time...

Confession. Forgiveness. Communion. We take His Body given for us. Take His Blood shed for us. God is now within us. The Body and Blood of Jesus mingling with our own body and blood. Communion means sharing and we share now the self-offering of our Savior. We are in His presence.

We are reminded that the various rituals practiced on Sundays look nothing like what took place in the ancient church. And, we have been given a sense of the earliest practice of Communion  when we are at the pastor’s home for Christmas.

Twenty or so have gathered together in the largest room of the house. Talking, laughing, sharing. A worry or concern is mentioned and a quick prayer is said, inviting God into the conversation. Someone is in the kitchen preparing food. A large round loaf of bread dough slides from a thin, flat piece of olive wood onto a 550̊ stone surface. Wheat flour, water, salt, olive oil and herb seasonings used in ancient biblical days have risen and formed into a life-sustaining loaf of bread. The aroma of hot bread ascends and begins to drift through the house. Wine is poured into small cups. The bread is taken from the oven and its very fragrance invites people to gather around the now cooling loaf. There is silence and stillness. An expectation of God’s presence. In anticipation, they bow their heads. As the loaf of bread is broken into pieces, they hear the words of Jesus that have been spoken for the past 2000 years. “This is My Body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor 11:24 

This is the moment where our faith, tradition, ritual and reason come together in the mystery of the Communion. The actual presence of Jesus is mysteriously imparted into the bread and wine. We know not how that happens. The apostles were there the night that Jesus initiated the Lord’s Supper. They heard His words and then taught the first century church that His Body and Blood are truly present in the consecrated bread and wine. How can we possibly believe anything different?

The Body of Jesus broken and shared with us. And we must remember that we too come broken before Him. For it is in our brokenness we are refilled and refreshed by His presence. It is only then that we can share with others the God with us and through His grace, the God within us.  Amen?

Edited and republished from a 2014 AMEN Corner

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