Thursday, April 5, 2012

Healing Communion

I woke up this morning and the Lord gave me a "word" (a thought) that needs to be shared before we share communion tonight.  Tonight at Crossroads we, together with others around the world, will share communion (more about that below) and as we do it's important that we consider how it is we are living out the command of our Lord to love one another as he has loved us (John 13).

Jesus gave us that new command on the night when he was betrayed.  Jesus said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I think of this in connection with other commands of our Lord.  In Matthew 5:23-24 (see below) our Lord commands us concerning religious rituals, saying that if we are not reconciled with one another, if we remember that our brothers or sisters in Christ have something against us, then it says that we ought to "go and be reconciled" before completing the ritual.  Jesus specifically in that case is talking about giving "a gift at the altar" which might mean giving gifts for ritual sacrifice, but it still applies, I believe to any church practice or "ritual" (such as communion) that we participate in.  Jesus gives particular commands about how we ought to be reconciled with each other in Matthew 18:15.

Then there is the whole chapter 11 of Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, a chapter that has just as much to do with correcting sinful behavior in the Christian community as it does with passing down words that we use most every time we share "communion" together.  It's no mistake that the words "communion" and "community" go together.  If we do not understand or discern that our relationships in the body of Christ, if we do not confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5) there will be a sickness in our church body that cannot be gotten rid of by mere religious ritual, even if that ritual is commanded by our Lord.

So, as we prepare for communion tonight, let us prepare by considering if anyone has anything against us, and then purpose in our hearts, and even tell someone else, that we ARE going to do everything we can to be reconciled with our neighbors, no matter who may be in the wrong.


Millions of Christians will share the Lord's Supper tonight. Today is "Maundy Thursday"* and tonight is the night when Jesus was betrayed.

Millions of Christians hear those words "the night when he was betrayed" regularly.  Millions hear those words from First Corinthians 11 whenever they share the bread and wine at worship, whenever they share this wonderful gift of our Lord that we often call "Holy Communion."

And tonight is that night, the night Jesus was betrayed, the night of the Passover meal, the night when Jesus took the bread and said "this is my body" and then took a cup of wine and said "this is my blood."  He then commanded his disciples to eat and drink these gifts "in remembrance of me."


* The English word Maundy might come from the Latin word mandatum, meaning "mandate." If so, the name Maundy would come from a Latin translation of Jesus' words in John 13 ("Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos") meaning "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you."  Others theorize that the English name "Maundy Thursday" arose from "maundsor baskets" or "maundy purses" of alms which the king of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. Thus, "maund" would be connected to the Latin mendicare, and French mendier, to beg.1


Matthew 5:23-24 "...if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

First Corinthians 11:27-32 "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.  But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world."

James 15:16 "...confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed..."


A few weeks ago at huddle (Crossroads Huddle #1) we looked at how Confession and Forgiveness fits into the Relationship Triangle (see at right).  It's often easier for Christian believers to confess their sins and receive forgiveness from God than it is for us to share mutual confession and forgiveness with one another in the family of God, that is, in our church and personal family relationships.  We do need to pay attention to all of our relationships, and share honest confession and forgiveness with one another.  If we do not, communion will not bring the health and healing designed and desired and indeed commanded by the Lord. 


One more thought... Jesus washed his disciples feet as a way of enacting the command "Love One Another." Not only does this demonstrate love and forgiveness, it also shows such kindness. Gentle consideration for one another is, therefore, a part of the Christian life, caring for others to the point of doing things for them that they could easily do for themselves.

This brings to mind part of what we focused on last Sunday, where we have God's Word from Philippians chapter 2 about considering others as more important than ourselves and putting their interests above our own convenience and our own desires and wishes.  This means just doing kind things for others who are a part of my intimate circle (as Jesus' disciples were for him).  For example, it means paying attention to the desires of my wife (or husband) and adjusting things in my life to accommodate them even if I don't personally think they are very important, as long as I can do that without compromising my relationship with God and the truth to which God has called me.

Jesus not only did profound things for his disciples and friends, he showed that caring in simple, caring acts and elevated them to sacred significance.

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