Eucharist And The New Year
As we enter a new year, I would like to share some thoughts on The Eucharist and how this common liturgical act can shape how we embrace 2012.
Rob Bell: Jesus is God’s good gift to the world. On the cross, Jesus’ body is broken and blood pours out for the healing of the world. God has made peace with the world through the Eucharist, the good gift, of Jesus. Christians take part in a ritual, a meal, a reminder of Passover, called Eucharist—also called communion or the Lord’s Supper or mass—as a way of remembering and returning to who God is and what God has done in Christ.
Henri Nouwen: The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal. When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.
patheos.com: I propose that the Eucharist is the gospel meal for the gospelizing community. It is the celebration of the new covenant, the new exodus, and our new hope in the Lord Jesus. The Eucharist is essentially remembering Jesus’ death, reinscribing the story of Jesus’ passion with paschal imagery, restating the promises of the new covenant, rehearsing the victory of Jesus over sin and death, and refocusing our attention towards the parousia of the Lord Jesus.
I struggle to understand the Eucharist, what it means for us today. I find great meaning and value in this ritual, yet I don’t fully understand the meaning, history, and reason behind this ritual. I know it goes back to the final meal that Jesus shared with his first disciples and we do this in remembrance of this sharing act of breaking bread together. I am reading about and reflecting on it.
At my church, we receive the Eucharist once a month.
The first Sunday of the month, we take communion. Therefore, this year I will post once a month my thoughts, impressions, and learning on this ritual. The first one will be on the New Year and how the Eucharist could be seen as enacting the renewal of our vow to God.
There was a time in each of our lives that we chose to follow Jesus. That we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior is a part of our personal stories. We can use communion as a way of reminding ourselves of our acceptance of and response to Jesus. We can take the bread and wine pray to Jesus about the times we slipped and stumbled, about the things we struggle with, about our wants and desires, and our hope to be a better person living out our faith. We don’t do this on our own, but in community of like-minded men and women letting all come forward with us, so we can help and guide one another.
On communion Sunday, before church I contemplate all the places I am not what I ought to be, all the things I have done right and wrong, where I would like to go in the coming month. I pray. As my pastors lead the communion service, I consider their words. As I get up and precede to the front of the church to take communion I contemplate further the places I am not what I ought to be, all the things I have done right and wrong, where I would like to go in the coming month. I gently place the wine soaked bread into my mouth, let it sit there for a moment, then move it around my mouth chewing it and soak in all that Jesus has done and is doing in my life and the life of others. I swallow it knowing the grace of God rests on me that I need to respond to that grace extending it to others. Love is present in this ritual and I sense it all around me. All who partake of the bread and wine are enveloped by this ever-present love and grace. I want others to feel this presence that I feel so close to and I want to make myself more aware of it throughout the month. I return to my seat and pray that God make me the person I need to be, the person He wants me to be, that I am more able to extend the grace and love I feel now to others.
Jeremiah 29: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
2 Corinthians: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
When life is hard and we wonder if there is meaning or purpose in life God is there not for us, but with us. Jesus knows all about the temptations, struggles, problems, triumphs and goodness about human life and does not tell us to transcend our humanness or seek escape from it, but to embrace it to live life to its fullest and serve others in love. Jesus wants us to gather and do the things he taught his first disciples to do.
Consequently, in the New Year we can live out the implications of the Eucharist in such a way that others will see Jesus as we see Him. Jesus is Lord and Savior of all, not just those who readily call him that. It’s not so important who does or doesn’t self-identify as Christian, but what we think of Jesus and live our lives in response our commitment to the Jesus way. Religion is not important, relationship is and how we respond to that relationship is what matters most. We shouldn’t seek for God to rescue us from our lives, but to live our lives with love and not let our wounds define us, but our commitment to love everyone looking for chances to love.
John Calvin: all the benefit which we should seek in the Supper is annihilated if Jesus Christ be not there given to us as the substance and foundation of all. That being fixed, we will confess, without doubt, that to deny that a true communication of Jesus Christ is presented to us in the Supper, is to render this holy sacrament frivolous and useless—an execrable blasphemy unfit to be listened to.
I say that not only is the Eucharist worthless without the presence of Jesus, but life itself is not worth living without the felt presence of Jesus. Jesus makes all of life over-flowing with love, grace, and beauty. I hope all of us will find Jesus in the act of living our lives to the fullest and others will see Him shinning through us.
John 10: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
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