On The Eucharist
It is Communion Sunday, so I would like to share a few words on the Eucharist and its relation to the things I have been writing about recently.
I have written about Jesus being the Lord of life that it is through Jesus we live, can come to God and not fear that God will punish us. Jesus took our just punishment to make us right with God. Also, I wrote that sometimes when we pray and hope for something God says no, so that He may say yes to something much greater. God is not in the business of making us happy, but working to make us all we should and ought to be. God is inviting each of to change into the people who don’t hope for some celestial garden in the sky, but to live in the Kingdom here-and-now. God is asking us to embrace the messy, magical, transforming lives that both proclaims and extends God’s unlimited and limitless love and grace for all.
Last week, I wrote about the Gospel, which is the good news that God has not given up on the world that He is active in the world. The gospel is the good news that God loves you just as you are , but loves you way too much to leave you that way that God is changing you into the person He would have you be. The gospel is this: Jesus died naked and shivering on the cross to reconcile you to God. Jesus died for your sins.
Earlier this week, I wrote about doing justice about taking up the cause of the poor and oppressed. Jesus did not die just so you can be saved and live life the way you want to. Jesus did not die so you can pursue the American Dream. Jesus died for sins and asks that you live a life that when someone sees you they wonder what makes you so happy, what causes you to do what you do.
Our Christianity should mean something.
So, how with all this in mind impact how we approach, consume, and understand the Eucharist or Communion.
What does it mean to you when you participate in the Communion sharing of the bread and the cup?
John Calvin said, “It is a mystery too sublime for me to be able to express, or even to comprehend; and, to be still more explicit, I rather experience it, than understand it.”
Rob Bell says, “Think of the Eucharist not just as a ritual, but as a way of life. Eucharist means ‘be thankful.’ Whenever you serve, you are breaking your body and pouring your blood. It is Jesus through us. The Eucharist is not a product. Everybody has to ask the difficult question, “How can I be a Eucharist?”
Jesus Christ is spiritually present during communion. When communion is shared this morning, think about what it means to have the very real spiritual presence of Christ among us, and within you. The bread and cup remain just common bread and cup. Nothing magical happens to them. They act as visible signs and symbols. As symbols, they point beyond themselves to a deeper reality. That reality is the most important part and involves the promises that God has made to us in this new covenant—this new relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ. The bread and the cup outwardly represent those things that God is doing for us inwardly. One of the most important things God is doing for us is feeding and sustaining us spiritually. Communion is a renewal of the vows we take at baptism and a reenactment of the last supper, the Lord’s Supper. Jesus is present to us in a very real sense and as we take the bread and cup, we re-commit ourselves to the way of Jesus.
The Lord’s Supper connects us to everyone in every part of the world, regardless of our denominational and personal theological beliefs. Think what implications that has for your life and how you can and should live it out in a real life sense. Communion lasts only a moment, but it can have ripple effects that go way beyond that single moment. It can save your life, it can transform your life—if you let it. We are celebrating today our unity with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ across the planet. Even if we can’t completely understand intellectually, what The Lord’s Supper is all about, we can experience God’s empowering and uniting presence with us, and within us that binds and sustains our fellowship.
J.C. Ryle said, “The bread that the believer eats, at the Lord’s Table, is intended to remind him of Christ’s body given to death on the cross for his sins. The wine that he drinks is intended to remind him of Christ’s blood shed to make atonement for his transgressions. The whole… was meant to keep fresh in his memory the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and the satisfaction which that sacrifice made for the sin of the world. The two elements of bread and wine were intended to preach Christ crucified as our substitute under lively emblems. They were to be a visible sermon, appealing to the believer’s senses, and teaching the old foundation-truth of the Gospel, that Christ’s death on the cross is the life of man’s soul.”
I will take this a step further. I believe that our lives should reflect our surrender and commit in coming to the Lord’s Table and that each of should be a visible sermon that preaches Christ crucified. Each time we let go of past hurts and failures to embrace the hope and grace of the future we renew our surrender to Jesus. Each time we say yes to life instead of no, and risk being hurt, we enter more fully into the Kingdom of God in the messy and beautiful here-and-now. Each time we open ourselves to the love and grace of God and deny ourselves we more fully embrace the way of Jesus. Paul wrote, “I die daily” and might have added, “I am raised daily to new life.”
Henri Nouwen said, “The Church as the body of Christ, as Christ living in the world, has a larger task than to support, nurture, and guide its own members. It is also called to be a witness for the love of God made visible in Jesus. Before his death Jesus prayed for his followers, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Part of the essence of being the Church is being a living witness for Christ in the world.”
Therefore, when we take communion today let us ask how we can be a witness for the love of God made visible and tangible in Jesus. May you experience the Eucharist and may it make in you a new person in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
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