Summary: Communion is about encountering the life-changing presence of Jesus. It is about experiencing grace. It is then about being inspired to be a meaninful presence to others.
August 17, 2008
One communion Sunday, the communion was prepared with a twist. The grape juice looked darker than usual. The pastor thought nothing of it and began to serve the communion. Promptly upon receiving the cup, each recipient’s face had a peculiar, stunned look. When it came time for the pastor to receive he discovered why the strange looks...the juice was prune juice!
I guess the congregation was spiritually constipated. They needed their bowels stirred by Jesus.
Let me ask you… what should we expect to get from communion. What do we receive by taking the elements? A little (and I mean very little) nourishment? Some vitamin C from the juice? What do we receive?
For millennia, the church has believed that communion or the Great Thanksgiving or the Eucharist was a sacrament. This meant it was sacred but not just something holy in and of itself but it is a sacred means of receiving GRACE. It also meant that the Lord was present in a real and powerful way during the Eucharist.
I see that following Jesus is first of all a profound experience with the presence of God. For myself, it seems as if this act of worship takes on a greater and deeper meaning every time that I participate. I truly have a sense of the presence of the Lord. Yes, God is present in the singing and throughout my day but there seems to be something special and unique that defies explanation about communion.
And just as we experience the presence of the Lord, I believe with every part of my being and more that we are to take this presence to share with those around us. We are to take the Lord’s Table to other people.
So as I talk about taking the Lord’s Table to people, I’m not literally saying for you to take a some bread and cup full of juice to work or next door to your neighbor and say, “Hey my pastor said I ought to do this. He said I ought to bring you communion and that it would be really good for you.” I’m not saying that. Although it certainly would be good to take someone a meal especially if they are sick.
What I’m saying is that we ought to be taking grace to people around us. We ought to be showing them what the grace of God looks like. This is especially important because what a lot of people see Christians bringing to them is two scoops judgment with a covering of hypocrisy.
A meaningful presence is what this is all about. Taking the Lord’s Table to others means taking the grace that we find and sharing with others to be a blessing to them. No one ever got to the end of their life and said, “You know, I just gave away too much grace. I should have kept some for myself.”
And unfortunately, not too many people put on their bucket list, “Give more grace to others.” You all know what a bucket list is, right? Let me show you a clip that explains it.
SHOW Bucket List clip.
A bucket list is the list of things to do before you “kick the bucket.” Give more grace to others probably never makes it to such a list. Probably because if it is so important to you than you are probably already trying to do it.
So what does a meaningful presence look like? I have a few things.
• Extreme Hospitality
This is tough. I am constantly trying to find the right balance between showing extreme hospitality and taking the time to partake meaningfully in the Lord’s presence.
I guess the picture from Psalm 23 has been extremely helpful. “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.” God shows extreme hospitality especially when the hour seems darkest. Maybe? Perhaps? I can do the same.
I guess it means two things. First, remembering to be a meaningful presence and help prepare a table for others that are suffering. The enemies surround them. I can try to simply be there. Secondly, I can remember that when God prepares such a table for me in my dark nights of the soul, I can share with others. I think most of us tend to withdraw when tragedy strikes. Sometimes the greatest thing that I can do is be hospitable during my own tough times. It has the effect of getting me out of myself. Because when these times hit, I often don’t feel very useful and I don’t feel very important and I don’t feel even very valuable but showing hospitality to others reminds me of just how important they are to Jesus and then how important I am to Jesus.