Eucharist And Salvation

Palm Sunday marks our entrance into Holy Week, which culminates in Good Friday and Easter day. This is a time of remembrance, commemoration, and celebration. What a time! Our salvation rests on this week and what Jesus did during this time. Jesus, the Son of God, Lamb of God took on the sin of the world and went to the cross to win back all of creation to God, Our Father.

In the accounts of the four canonical Gospels, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem takes place about a week before his crucifixion and Resurrection. In the Gospels, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there lay down their cloaks and lay down small branches of trees in front of him. The people sang (Psalms 118: 25–26)—Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord.  

The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the tradition that it’s an animal of peace, versus the horse, an animal of war. A king rode upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he was coming in peace. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king. Something we need to remember again, Jesus is the Prince of peace and not a warrior-king. We, his followers are to be channels of that same peace.

This year Palm Sunday falls on the first Sunday of the month making it Eucharist Sunday at my church. I believe this will add to the meaning of both of these events. I thought I would reflect on salvation, what it brings to the Eucharist meal. The Eucharist is done in remembrance of the Last Supper that Jesus led the night he was arrested. He taught the apostles the meaning of the meal and to do it in remembrance to him. In joining the drama in which Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and feeds us, we do something to sink the meaning of communion into us more deeply. The Meal is simple. It builds on the theme that Heaven and earth, God’s future and our present, come together in Jesus—especially in communion, the richest of all Christian symbols. In the name of Jesus is our salvation promise of Eternal Life.

N.T. Wright: “Part of the story is that God is taking the world somewhere. He’s got plans. Apparently he’s promised to do for all of us what he did for Jesus after he died. And for the whole world too…. This God really does love the whole world and wants to make it all alive in a new way, like he did with Jesus on that first day of the week.”

The Eucharist offers us a glimpse at that new way of being. In partaking of the bread and wine, we consume a bit of the divine heart at the center of the universe and step closer to aligning our whole life to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Eucharist meal helps us realize that our salvation is not just about our individual concerns about forming a community of humble, Christ-like, God glorifying disciples. As novelist Dean Koontz writes, “None of us can ever save himself; we are the instruments of one another’s salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light.”

Rob Bell in his book Jesus Wants to Save Christians advances the idea that we can be living Eucharist, gifts to the world. I like this idea. It appeals to my idea and hope that Christianity can and should be lived and not merely talked about or believed in. I believe that God gives us as a gift to the world. We are not to shout at people about sin and hell or bash people with the bible, but be living examples of what a Christian is and should be, letting the bible be the mirror we gaze at to inform our life. We don’t do this on our own or for our salvation.  God working in and through us that makes us examples of the Kingdom of God for a world that is perishing. Rob Bell writes, “Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker.  Your deepest, darkest sins and your shameful secrets are simply irrelevant when it comes to the counterintuitive, ecstatic announcement of the gospel. So are your goodness, your rightness, your church attendance, and all of the wise, moral, mature decisions you have made and actions you have taken.”

Now, my question to you dear reader and to myself is voiced by Frederick Buechner, “And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?”

In God’s tender love for the human race He sent His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility. May God Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and share in his resurrection, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

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