7.07.2010

Communion

I really enjoy our Shoreline tradition of communion on the first Wednesday of every month. We bring all of our children's and youth ministries together the the adults for a night of worship songs, a few brief thoughts about communion, and then we take the elements together. The band is represented by ministry to every age at shoreline and we also take a moment to highlight people who serve in various areas of our church. Tonight I'm the one offering up a few thoughts about communion. It's not a full fledged 30 minute lesson or anything, but such an important moment deserves some thought.

As I began to reflect on this ancient sacrament of the Christian Church I thought back to how it was first explained to me.  The first time I remember taking communion was at our wonderful Wesleyan church in Park, Florida. My mom took a moment out of service to explain to m Pinellas y why we take it and what to do before, during, and after taking the elements. Any awkwardness was further alleviated by the method our church took it. Once everyone had the elements, the pastor would give instructions on when to eat and when to drink . We literally ate it at the same time. It was such a holy and sacred moment, even recognizable by a nine year old. I knew communion was something people should treat with reverence and awe.

In college, I wondered for the first time, "why bread? Why wine?"I knew that the world was broken. Humanity needed a savior and a way to approach God. I knew that God loved his creation so much, but "eat my flesh, drink my blood?" Really?  Was Jesus merely in need of a quick object lesson at dinner? Did he decide to create the holy sacraments out of thin air?  Of course not, but as a westerner I had no understanding of the deep subtext going on at the last supper and of all the meaningful layers of God's plan communicated through this ceremony.

Tonight I'll talk briefly about ancient near eastern contracts and the bloodpath God instructed Abraham to make In Genesis 15. In this passage we see God using a form of contract that would have been very familiar to Abraham since the narrative is set in the ancient near east. Slaughtered animals from the herd,  flock, and birds were placed on either side of a trough. The parties entering into a contract or covenant would walk through the path as a way of saying, "if I break my word, you can walk through my blood like this." Imagine if we had this sort of thing as a part of our wedding ceremonies at Shoreline! Abraham sees this and gets scared to death because he knows that there is no way he can keep up his end of the bargain with God. Abraham knows that he will fail God. So God in the form of a pot on fire, walks through the trough a second time.

What an incredible setup for the eucharist! Humanity did break the covenant, many times the last time I checked. Thankfully God walked through a second time. He did more than just walk through, God spilled His own blood to renew the covenant between Him and his creation. Our sins are more than covered, we have been more than merely forgiven. Through Christ's sacrifice, God has made and is making us whole!

That is why, "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

1 comment:

The Hanique's said...

Very interesting! I didn't know communion went all the way back to the contract that Abraham had with God.
I love it how God is so consistent through all time and takes human traditions and uses them in a whole different, divine way to save humanity.

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