Monday, March 5, 2012

Communion - and conversations with Jesus

The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God's Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 - CEV)

The fpcBrandon Choir, singing at the 11:00 worship service
CHURCH ROCKS! It was so great to spend a routine Sunday with my church family this weekend!

I've been on the road a lot, and consequently missed the past three weeks in succession. There's a spirit in our faith community that is vibrant and authentic; First Brandon is a unique witness to what church can be/should be wherever God's people gather to worship.

I captured this image during the anthem at the "traditional" 11:00 worship service. That's my guitar, front and center. We serve communion the first Sunday of each month, and I play acoustic guitar - along with Mark on piano - as background music while the elements are being passed.

Pastor Tim in "disguise' for the children's moment!
Sharing the bread and the wine felt exactly right, especially as I've been gone so much recently. Communion puts the idea of the Body of Christ into context. When we pause to serve one another we make a strong statement that the unity we experience is possible because we all have the same standing in relation to Jesus.

We're all equally forgiven and we're all equally free. It's for no other reason than because of Christ. Communion is spiritually nourishing and communion is relationally unifying. Jesus doesn't serve us his body and blood because we deserve it; Jesus serves us exactly because we don't.

Communion Continued: When my small group met that evening we had one of the best conversations ever around a couple of questions I posed. The first was, "Given the opportunity, what event in the life of Jesus would you like to attend?" The answers were varied, but the common theme was more about relationships than events. My friends were more interested in the opportunity for intimacy with Christ than the chance to witness something spectacular.

The second question settled in around the idea of sharing a meal with Jesus - he always seemed to be at some kind of a dinner party. "Imagine we're sharing one of those dinners with Jesus," I said. "If you were there, what question would you ask?"

I was blown away by the depth and the wisdom of the conversation.
  • "I'd ask, 'Why Me?'" one person said. And it wasn't "Why?" in terms of the unfairness of life, but a "Why?" of gratitude in relation to God's amazing love. "I'd ask Jesus what makes me so special, and why God cares for me so very personally," she said. "I understand that other people have this assurance too, but I feel God's love and care - I always have - and sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the truth of it. So I'd ask Jesus, 'Why? Why do you love me?'"
  • Someone else said they'd ask Jesus to heal his father's troubled heart and mind. I was immediately reminded of how many people in the Gospel stories came to Jesus on behalf of someone else. All the needs of their own lives and, when they finally got to meet God face-to-face, they asked Jesus to intervene with someone they love. Jesus was always impressed and moved by such people, and I believe he still is today.
  • Then there was the man who said, "I'd just ask Jesus what is it that I can do to help...?" Wow! Such selflessness. Not even an attempt to wring a nugget of wisdom from the Master, simply an offer to be a servant alongside Jesus.
There were more insightful questions, and there was additional wonderful discussion. But I believe that's enough for a Monday morning.

Meeting in small groups over a meal, sharing life together, is another form of communion (our "Family Group" in Athens).
DINNER WITH THE MASTER: So what would you say, given the opportunity to sit at table with Jesus and participate in the conversation?

This is where being an active participant in an authentic faith community is such a key element in this "Life-Charged Life" we continue to talk about. Because Jesus does share the table with us whenever we meet in his name.
What would you say to Jesus?

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