Of any church I have ever attended, VLC has the best fellowship by far! I am blessed by our commitment to eat together, including all the preparations by our designated hosts and by you all on the fourth Sunday of each month. It’s a delight to sit down across the table from a loving and smiling face and get to know each other and support one another. This is something to be treasured!
I used the word fellowship above on purpose to describe our church family meals together. The word “fellow” conjures up notions of being on the same level, none being more important than another. It also describes the fact that we are all in this together. * I think it’s significant that we use fellowship along with our meal time, since when we sit down to eat we are, again, all at the same level, sharing a friendly, yet intimate, experience.
Being “people of the table” means more that just celebrating Communion, but it does include that. When Jesus gave us the practice of Communion, it was a part of a larger meal. When the early church worshipped and fellowshipped together, they did so house to house, sharing meals. I believe that when we sit down together for a meal we are declaring our unity, that together we are one as we enjoy God’s presence during our meal. For me that too is communion.
Lastly, Stuart Nice, in his Daily Scripture Reading email for Thursday, January 21, shared with us about Recognizing Our Brother. It is a great article on what little actually separates us when we choose to see Jesus in one another. As I read this I was reminded of the post-resurrection story of the disciple on the road to Emmaus. There Jesus meets them on the road, though they didn’t recognize him. He then sits down with them for a meal. While he is breaking the bread he is revealed to them, and they are revealed both to themselves and each other. Their example to us was that our hearts and lives can be expanded when we choose to be open to the leading of God’s Spirit and have eyes open to see Jesus in one another. These are also the marks of being People of the Table.
Grace and peace,
The etymology of the word “fellowship” comes from the Old English, meaning, literally, “one who lays down money in a joint enterprise.” Fellowship occurs when we commit and invest lives to Christ and one another.
This week I came across a devotional that really touched me and seemed to continue in the same thought as my message last Sunday.* It comes from a daily email devotional by Fr. Richard Rohr. I thought it best to share it in full.
* Note: Eucharist is the same as Communion or the Lord’s Supper.
In my message last Sunday I applied my equation of Proximity + Process = Presence to Eucharist. At the Lord’s table we draw near to God (proximity), expecting to be changed through healing, forgiveness, salvation (process), and thus experience God (presence). Fr. Richard describes an aspect of how this works.
“Christ is the bread, awaiting hunger.” – St. Augustine
Bread and Wine by Anna Tikhomirova
Eucharist is presence encountering presence-mutuality, vulnerability. There is nothing to prove, to protect, or to sell. It feels so empty, simple, and harmless, that all you can do is be present. In most of Christian history we instead tried to “understand” and explain presence. As if we could.
The Eucharist is telling us that God is the food and all we have to do is provide the hunger. Somehow we have to make sure that each day we are hungry, that there’s room inside of us for another presence. If you are filled with your own opinions, ideas, righteousness, superiority, or sufficiency, you are a world unto yourself and there is no room for “another.” Despite all our attempts to define who is worthy and who is not worthy to receive communion, our only ticket or prerequisite for coming to Eucharist is hunger. And most often sinners are much hungrier than the so-called saints.
Lately I’ve been meditating on Communion (also known as the Lord’s Table and the Eucharist). In fact, it’s been intersecting me on a regular basis for the last few weeks through reading, listening, and just thinking. At VLC we’ve been talking about grace for the last month or so, and thus my thoughts about Communion are infused with grace. Below is a thought stream on grace in Communion.
On a Thursday Jesus established the Lord’s Table, knowing that the next day, Friday, would be the worst day of his life. He was able to do this because his faith was firmly rooted in the hope that on Sunday everything would be made right again.
Bread and Wine by Anna Tikhomirova
The grace in Communion for us today is that Jesus is inviting us into his Friday. Jesus will take everything that has brought us to Friday and stay with us as we process toward Sunday.
The grace in Communion is that it is not to practiced alone. The grace in the bread is that through Jesus’ broken body we are brought into his unified body. The grace in the cup is that we now stand as a people who are adopted, redeemed, and justified.
We, God’s people, are a grace. At times we can stand with those who are facing a Friday, embodying the hope of Sunday. At other times we are walking through the hell of a Friday and need the grace of people who will love us, remain with us, and even help us bear the cross with us and for us, embodying the hope of Sunday. That is grace in Communion.
I pray that as you practice Communion you will also experience God’s grace through the symbols and through God’s people.
This coming Monday is Memorial Day. It is a day in which we remember those who have died in active military service. Jesus reminded us that “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) I am grateful for those sacrifices, just as I am grateful for Jesus’ sacrificial death for the salvation of the world.
I was listening to an interview about Communion recently where a definition of “remember” was offered as not reliving the past, in our minds or otherwise, but rather to breathe new life into the present by embracing the past faithfulness of others and walking out that same faithfulness in our own lives today.
Jesus prefaced his statement above with, “This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) As Christians we are to live lives shaped by the cross of Christ. Our remembrance of him should not simply be a retelling of his death and resurrection, but an embracing of his faithfulness by loving others as Jesus loves us and as we ourselves would want to be loved.
Just as it would dishonor Jesus by living our “saved” lives only for ourselves, it also dishonors those who have died for our country if we don’t find a way to share the love. May our devotion to the commonwealth of God bleed over into our “American” lives by loving our neighbor as ourself.