Sunday, April 5, 2009

While It Is Fresh On My Mind

Bob taught Sunday School this morning...a good lesson.

James and Amber came by this afternoon. We had a good visit.

And tonight we had Communion. The Lord's Supper.

Our church does not do it but a few times a year. And when they started doing it, just a few years ago, they did it more of a feely-good song service. Not what we were used to, but we hung in there. We were raised with lots and lots of teaching about all the elements, and history, and Greek and Hebrew. But, our church, which we have attended now for over 12 years, decided to do an actual supper. The first time, they served ham, and I about fainted. Pork at a passover-like meal? Whoa. I think they served lamb once. And an actual Passover re-enactment by a Jewish guy helped understand where Jesus was coming from. But stuff has been added over the years, and best to go back to the original.

God instituted the Passover to help the Israelites remember God's deliverance from slavery, from Egypt. God gave them specific instructions about killing and eating a lamb, and putting the blood on the doorposts and lintil, and eating unleaven bread with your traveling clothes on. To be saved, "passed-over" by the angel of death, all they had to do was believe. Obey. Wait on the Lord's deliverance. And every element of that first Passover pointed to Jesus who would die as the Lamb for the sins of the whole world.

I like how Bob explained how substitutionary atonement is more like a soldier dying for his men. Dying to protect his men. Taking their place. It is a hard concept to wrap our brains around, but that one helps a little. I have no idea what the Jews thought for thousands of years when they killed a lamb and pondered the innocence of the lamb and how it was going to take their sins away? Without the Temple, they don't even slaughter lambs anymore. But, even the unleaven bread and cup of wine are pictures of Jesus, the Bread from Heaven that came up out of the ground. He arose. And how His blood was shed for us. We don't do anything for our deliverance. Just believe. Trust that what He said and did is true.

Re-reading the chapters in first Corinthians where Paul addresses a wild church of folks doing things wrong, Paul repeats what Jesus said at the Last Supper, the night before He was betrayed, "Do this in remembrance of Me...for when we eat the bread and drink the cup, we declare the Lord's crucifiction UNTIL HE COMES. I focused so long on the declaring the Lord's death part, and forgot about the three other words: UNTIL HE COMES. Jesus is coming back. And He will set everything right.

The Jews of the Old Testament were commanded to commemorate the Passover every year looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. We commemorate what Jesus did on the cross looking back, but also forward to the fact that He is coming again. He loves us and wants the best for us. And as we marvel about the stories and commandments and instructions of the Bible, I am amazed how there is something new and fresh every time. All we do is believe. Trust. Listen. And wait on His deliverance. It is all there, in the elements we can touch and taste and feel---the pierced matsza, the cups of wine or grape juice, the sense of community---done as a group, a church, a family as we eat and drink and often act goofy. We can't help it. Someone tells us this is a solemn occasion--and the mirth breaks out. I saw Mr. Steve throw a napkin at Donna's husband tonight while we were singing---and we are SO thankful that the singing came after, when we actually have something to sing about. wow. Thank You, Lord!

Some communion services focus on our sins. the importance of confessing our sins, what we have done, so that we will somehow be clean, fresh, and not die from celebrating the Eucharist full of leaven. But, tonight, we tried to focus on how it was right in front of them all along----hidden in the elements----the picture of what Jesus had to do on the cross to save us. The matsza, wrapped in linen...

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