The Eucharist and The New Year (2013)
I am trying better to understand the Eucharist offering my take on this sacrament of the Christian Church. The Eucharist is something that some churches do once a week, twice a month, or once a month. The church I attend enacts this rite once a month. I am not sure which is better, though I want to say that weekly may be the best practice. Different ways of understanding this ritual of interacting with this shared meal with this act of remembrance; each of us probably has our own favorite or preferred way of understanding it.
The Eucharist is a way of renewing my commitment to Christ and His Church saying I have been adopted into the family of God to show outwardly, what has been and continues to occur inwardly. A profound way of saying I am a Jesus follower. I partake of the bread and wine because I stumble sometimes I fall flat on my face and need the love of the amazing savior we have; I partake of the bread and wine because I don’t always know how to live and need a wonderful Lord to show the way. Jesus fulfills both of those roles and so much more.
We should not put barriers between the love and grace of Jesus and the people who need the same love and grace we feel. The only barrier we should place before the communion table of Our Lord and everyone is their willingness to follow Jesus. Jesus opens the gate. Anyone willing to welcome Jesus into their hearts and souls should be welcome at the table of Jesus. Jesus welcomes everyone to come and see that God is good.
As we enter a new year, I would like to share some thoughts on The Eucharist how this common liturgical act can shape how we embrace 2013.
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.
The Eucharist is essentially remembering Jesus’ death, envisioning 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 coming of the Lord Jesus. In this one act is the entire gospel—God became man, welcomed all, healed the sick, preached the good news and went to the cross to reconcile all of creation back 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. Communion can be a way of reminding ourselves of our acceptance of and response to Jesus. We 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 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. I sense the love is present in this ritual 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 the presence that I feel so close to; 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 ought to be, the person He wants me to be, that I am more able to extend Jesus to others.
The first thing Jesus says after resurrection don’t hang on to me, then he says to spread the news about what has happened. Spread the news that a new day has come; God has begun a new thing all of creation will be reconciled to God. The good news that the very grace embodied in Jesus is offered to all no matter who they are God loves them.
It has not been long that I have committed to Jesus fully, that I have taken up the Jesus way. I am a Christian, a Jesus follower. I can see how my life is irreparably different. Things are not the same. For better or worse, my life is different is in the process of being transformed into new life into eternal life. I believe that life after Jesus is different and this different life is good. That God is good and all are called to come and see. With the grace of God, I will become the person God intends me to be. I am on the way.
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 how we live in response to our Jesus. 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 not letting our wounds define us, but our commitment to love is our trademark.