G'ampa C's Blog

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Lord's Supper Vol 11--"In Remembrance of Me"

Paul, in I Cor 11, and Luke in Luke 22 both give us the familiar phrase from Jesus: "Do this in remembrance of me". In discussing the Lord's Supper with others these past couple of years, I occasionally get some criticism about the sharing I think should be happening. One friend said "We aren't supposed to do all these things, we are supposed to do it in remembrance of Jesus." Let's talk about that.

The luncheon we shared, after my Dad's funeral, was all done "in remembrance of Daddy". We ate, drank, watched a slide presentation, laughed, cried, hugged, looked at old photos, talked about old times, grieved and celebrated--- all in remembrance of Daddy. The "in remembrance" was not the THING we did, but more the frame of reference for the things we did, a theme and mindset. It's the WHY, more than the WHAT. Without a doubt, remembering that Jesus loved us enough to die for us and bury our sins is an integral part of that WHY, but the whole process comes to life when we share it with others. Could I have had a funeral luncheon after my Dad's funeral all by myself? Yes. I had a meal like that before the funeral, while I was writing his eulogy. I wept and grieved and remembered and wrote. It was a necessary part of the process, but very different from the time I shared with my family. The sharing time gave us all strength and brought us closer together. Breaking bread together gives us strength and bonds us together in a similar way, all the while experienced in the frame of reference Jesus called "In remembrance of me".

The examples we have and the church traditions we know of all have in common the fact that the church came together to take the Lord's Supper. Like the Passover meal, it was a sharing event more than a private event. Jesus told us we could go into our closets to pray, but he didn't say that about the family reunion meal we call the Lord's Supper. The sharing of the meal between brothers and sisters may involve tears or laughter or both, all in remembrance of Jesus. It is a miracle of the Spirit that we, who are many, become one as we share the Bread of Life, and that remembering endears us both to Jesus and our brothers and sisters. The prayer, laughter, tears, hugs, eating, drinking, communication, sharing, eye contact, love and soul-searching we do during the Lord's Supper all are framed in the remembrance of Jesus.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Lord's Supper Vol. 10--- Relationships

In Post #4 of this series, I made the statement:
That statement probably needs some dressing and addressing.
Much of the Old Testament law had to do with how we treat each other. Specific acts were given specific consequences or punishment. When Jesus began to preach, though, he concentrated on the heart issues underlying how we treat each other, and not just the function. A check list of the proper activities done in the proper way was not going to suffice any more. We are called to Jesus' view of what is important:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."--------- This fulfills all the Law and the Prophets. How we treat God and how we treat men arises out of that love, and a great deal of the teachings of Christ have to do with how we relate to each other.
So what does this have to do with the Lord's Supper?
Maybe everything.
If we live and exist as a church forgiven, a church blessed by God, a church having a deep relationship with him, we are also called to be his instruments of that forgiveness, blessing and relationship to those around us. The Passover meal was not just a reminder, but also a way to build close relationships. Like the Lord's Supper, it was to be shared in a group, not taken alone. Something special happens when we let someone else into our personal space and allow communion there--we give ourselves to be instruments of God. We become more like him, more one with him, more a part of him. We allow others to be less lonely, less isolated, more connected. Something deep and powerful happens to me every time I look into the eyes of a brother or sister and share the body and blood of Jesus with them, because at that moment I become one body with her or him. God has known since he created me that I needed just that--- intimacy with him and those around me. I am not designed to live as a Christian on my own, and no one else is, either. Thus comes Paul's warning to the Church at Corinth: To take the Lord's Supper selfishly is to deny its very design and refuse to be an instrument of God, because we are called to be a single body. I can not claim intimacy with God while rejecting intimacy with my brothers and sisters who are "one" with him through Jesus. The communion meal creates an opportunity for me to interact with the Lord and his body very, very personally, a chance to give and receive the blessings of God and be witnesses to others giving and receiving those blessings.

Our communion creates a way for us to learn to commune with each other, but I must choose how much I interact with the family of God. I can let it happen, or prevent it from happening. What do I miss when I take the Lord's Supper in silence and introspection, never even noticing the body around me?
I think I miss the close relationships he had planned for me, and the rich friendships he wants for me, and the intimacy he desires from me. I think I miss the power of the living God flowing between me and his family.
Is the Lord's Supper the only way to approach an intimacy with God and my brothers and sisters? Obviously, it is not. But it is a way to open that door and break the ice between us, a way designed by God for us to be his instruments to each other, to become more like him and more one with him. And the more I communicate while I "commune", the stronger the Spirit's working in that meal seems to be. I am finding it more and more true that my relationships with the brothers and sisters are very important in my relationship with God.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Lord's Supper Vol 9--- What about the kids?

It has been a long-standing tradition in the Churches of Christ that children are not allowed to take the Lord's Supper until they are immersed. Apparently this comes from church tradition as far back as the fourth century. That is how we dealt with our children, but there is a fair amount of skepticism about that in my mind now.
The Passover clearly, by stated design, included the children. The youngest child asked the "WHY" in the ceremony. They would not be allowed to take of the Passover, however, without hearing what it was about and hearing the discussion of the traditions. Why were the children included in the Passover? I think it was to teach them from an early age that:
1. They are part of the family of God, and participate in his covenant.
2. They are important.
3. They have a place in the scheme of things.
4. They need to know about God's love and power and his delivery of their ancestors, and they need to believe themselves a party to that continued deliverance.

When I think of the Lord's Supper and children, do all of these items apply? Yep.

When Jesus said "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these...", what did that mean? Is it too much of a stretch to argue that little children do not inherit our sin, that they are born sinless, while arguing in the same breath that they can't take communion?
How many of the children reared in the church over the past 100 years have left the church or left God altogether? Could it have made a difference in their lives if they were considered part of the church family early on? Maybe so. Our children have been treated as second-class citizens in several ways in the church, and that is just wrong. (My opinion)
I think if my children were small again, I would make it a point to share the Lord's Supper with them, probably as early as they could tell me what it means to them. I wouldn't allow them to take a bit and pass it on, (it should not be a snack) but I would expect them to look at the next person and be able to tell them what this is about and why they do it. Then when they commit their lives to Jesus, taking the communion will bring a whole new meaning for them.
Maybe Ryan Nutt, age 5, summed it up for me when he was trying to convince his mother that he should be allowed to take the Lord's Supper:
He took his mother's cheeks between his hands and said
"Mother, am I or am I not a member of the body of Christ?"