Keepers of the Promise

Setting up for a party of 400 is easy when you have a system and people that have done it 400 times.  One problem constantly reoccurring is how cups are stacked and put back into storage.  The stack that gets pulled to set the cups may say “Goblets”, “Irish Mugs”, or “High Ball”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is what is in the crate.

This afternoon I was setting tables for a political event we’re hosting tomorrow evening at Ashland University and half of the tables in the room (middle to the back) were arranged for high school attendees.  The tables from middle to front got Irish Mugs for coffee and the back tables did not.  I carefully retrieved a 7″ stack of goblets for water and started to set the tables in the student section but I didn’t know at that time that the dish room mixed up the cups from time to time.  This foible played a part in me setting most of the tables for guests under 18 with champagne glasses.  

“Teens, we don’t trust you to contain your caffeine as much as we expect you to hold your liquor…”, or “Coffee? NO. Wine? YES!”

Best. party. ever.

During the monotony of putting beverage wrongs to right, I was listening to Rich Mullins song Peace on Spotify. It’s about sharing communion with Christian brothers and sisters that could potentially know nothing about the other but sharing a symbolic meal together.

——————————————–
And though I love you, still we’re strangers, Prisoners in these lonely hearts
And though our blindness separates us, Still His light shines in the dark
And His outstretched arms are still strong enough to reach
Behind these prison bars to set us free
So may peace rain down from Heaven, Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise, Falling on these souls the drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body, In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you [1]
——————————————–

Communion is a sacred time for the church to remember Christ’s death until he returns.  The apostle Paul sums up it’s significance in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” [1]

“The Greek word eucharisteo, “to give thanks,” accounts for the fact that another name for the Lord’s Supper is the Eucharist. Likewise some Christians call it “the breaking of bread” because Jesus broke the bread, as Paul stated here.”[1]  Catholics believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ.  So much so that if there is any bread or wine left over after communion the priests will eat the remainder so none will be wasted.  Also, if there are any crumbs that fall to the floor, each one will be carefully picked up and consumed.  I’m assuming that the 5 second rule does not apply here.  Maybe that was a bit crass but I don’t believe in transubstantiation (where the elements are miraculously transformed into Christ’s physical body).  I DO, however, believe that it is a sacred time and that all followers of Jesus should receive it regularly and readily.

  • Regularly because of Jesus’ and Paul’s command.  I’d say that’s coming from a good authority.  There’s no magic number of times to take Communion.  Some churches do it once a week while others do it monthly, or even bi-yearly.  The point is to do it and to keep doing it until Christ returns.  It is humbling to reflect on what Christ endured on the cross and what lead up to it.  Think of all the sins you had committed by age 33 (the age of Jesus at the time of his death and resurrection).  Now ponder the fact that all the longings you and I satisfy daily, Jesus didn’t once compromise his integrity by indulging his own tempestuous longings even in the slightest.  I was a ticking time bomb by the age of 10 and have torched my witness on multiple occasions.
  • Readily being that this is a time for self-examination. One is called upon to consider their own heart during this time and allow God to speak into it. It’s a pretty big deal to God to have nothing between you and he, or someone else, that would make you take it unworthily.
    • I Corinthians 11:27-34 “For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. 31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you assemble it does not lead to judgment.I will give directions about other matters when I come.
    • This time was not meant to be a meal replacement as the Corinthian church was using it for. It had become an extravagant pot luck that resembled a tailgate.

It hit me this afternoon while placing the wrong glassware on the tables that he cares deeply for people and invites them to his feast.  On a small note, the one’s who would receive the wine were young people.  It was a reminder that Jesus makes himself accessible to anyone humble enough to admit their brokenness only to receive his unblemished record as their own. We must come to him on his terms. His terms are that you come with child like faith in his promise(s).

That truth, my friends, never gets old.

Jesus has removed our guilt and invites us to his feast.  While it’s not enough to fill up on a wafer and a thimble of grape juice, these elements are “keepers of the promise” of the feast we will share with Christ in glory.

IN THE END I didn’t know who RSVP’d for the fancy dinner tomorrow but I don’t have to know them.  The invoice has already been paid and it is up to me to fulfill the specific terms of the contract.  Similarly I don’t know everyone I’ve ever taken communion with at a deep level but I don’t have to either.  That’s the beauty of it.  Christ has made himself accessible to anyone who calls on him as Savior.  

My relationship to the guests of tomorrow’s event is strictly transactional.  They paid for the meal and I serve the meal.  God’s feast however is of a purely relational nature now because the terms of the transaction of removing our guilt was pre-managed and fully satisfied on the cross.

  1. When is the last time you received communion?
  2. Have you examined your heart to see if there is anything causing you to take it unworthily?
  3. You don’t have to wait around until your church offers the next communion.
    • Over your next boring piece of toast and blandberry juice, think of Christ.  Thank him for the cross.  Take it cheerfully and, if possible, share that time with another fellow believer.

So may peace rain down from Heaven, Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise, Falling on these souls the drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body, In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

[1] “Rich Mullins – Peace.”YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cokdvpznlma&gt;

[2] Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

[3] Constable, Thomas L. Thomas Constable’s notes on the Bible: I-III. Fort Worth, Tex: Tyndale Seminary Pr, 2010.

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