it’s a humbling and awesome thing
to reflect on the cross of Jesus.
To think that Jesus obediently and willingly
had his body broken
and blood spilled,
is something that sends me to my knees in thankfulness and worship.
But what is even more profound and awesome
is to think that, through faith in Jesus,
I will be drinking of the fruit of the vine with him
in Your glorious kingdom someday.
You are holy and great and merciful.
You are compassionate and forgiving and loving.
We are unworthy but yet redeemed through the blood of the lamb.
May we cling to this New Covenant;
never taking it for granted.
And may we long to proclaim this Good News through word and deed.
All glory be to you, holy Father, through Christ Jesus our Lord.
I know that there are many various beliefs on what kind of bread “should” be used for Holy Communion. Among the various beliefs is the popular notion that it must be unleavened bread. I know scripture talks about unleavened bread. I for one have never used it for Holy Communion…not that I am against it, I just haven’t used it. Here at Salem we have used flat bread, bread machine bread, super market bread, bread bowl bread, wafers, etc. My main criteria is that I don’t want any sliced bread. But at our final First Communion class I asked the kids and parents if they wanted to make their own bread or just have me take care of it. One of the students suggested that they would like cinnamon bread.
…because bread is bread…right?
In Luther’s Small Catechism, Luther poses the question: How can eating and drinking do all this? He then answers his question by saying “It is not eating and drinking that does this, but the words, ‘given and shed for you for the remission of sins’. These words, along with eating and drinking, are the main thing in the sacrament. And whoever believes these words has exactly what they say, forgiveness of sins.” That says to me that bread is bread…and what is important is hearing the words of promise. So…is cinnamon bread OK?
My faith tells me that it is OK…but I can see how some people might be a little put off and maybe even a little offended. So with that I go back to Paul where he says that if eating meat causes someone to stumble in their faith, then I won’t eat meat (etc…). Basically…he won’t exercise his Christian freedom in such a way that might cause someone who is weaker in the faith to stumble. I can respect that.
But then I was thinking that I could explain the cinnamon as representing the “sweetness of Christ”. I am not sure if that would fly. So I don’t know.
Would you use cinnamon bread for Holy Communion or any other “usual” bread?
O.K…time to share with you what happened at worship on Sunday.
I said that worship was awesome on Sunday. Two things contributed to that: (1) My wife and her team of singers lead worship with the guitars (with me playing as well…which I really enjoy); and (2) continue reading below…
…The Gospel text was from John 6:1-14 (The Feeding of the 5000). This is one of my favorite miracle stories (next to the Resurrection of course). I talked about the miracle as something that the people (the 5000 present) did not really get. I mean…after they had eaten and realized what happened they thought Jesus was the prophet who had come into the world. They probably likened him to Elisha who fed 100 in 2 Kings 4 (the OT text on Sunday). In any case they wanted to take Jesus and make him king by force, but that is not what Jesus came to do. They missed the point…they did not get who Jesus really was.
From that I moved to talking about Holy Communion…another great meal that we a lot of times miss. We come forward for Holy Communion in a ritualistic kind of way and totally blow off the words that are being spoken. I mean think about it…Holy Communion is about the death and resurrection of Jesus and the promise of the forgiveness of sins, but how many times do you REALLY really think about that when you receive the bread and the wine? I urged the people on Sunday to think about this.
Then I went on to say:
“When you come here to Salem on the 1st or 2nd Sunday of the month you expect to receive Holy Communion. You know that Holy Communion happens towards the end of the worship service. You know the liturgy and how to respond. Well…I am going to throw you off guard today. It may be the 4th Sunday of the month but we are going to celebrate Holy Communion right now. I did not get permission from the altar guild, the worship/music committee, the deacons or the church council. We are just going to do it.”
I did not use the “normal” liturgy…actually I didn’t use any liturgy. I went on to invite people to come forward whenever they felt ready to encounter a miracle. I urged them to listen to the words “The Body of Christ broken FOR YOU…the Blood of Christ shed FOR YOU“. I urged the people to listen to these words and hear the miracle…the forgiveness of your sins. I invited them to pray before hand and confess if they would like and then come forward. There was going to be nothing that was ritualistic about this celebration of Holy Communion.
Everyone came forward (except for one person) to partake in this miracle. And after the worship I got so many comments from people who were very appreciative of what happened in worship (Praise be to God!). I think people liked it because Holy Communion was not ritualistic. Maybe some people were hearing for the first time the miracle of this sacrament…I don’t know…but what I do know is that is was powerful for me (and for my wife who was helping serve communion and obviously for a number of others).
Worship was awesome on Sunday. And all I can say to summarize it is: “PRAISE BE TO GOD!”
…Jesus feeds 5000 men with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
After everyone ate, people realized that something amazing happened, but didn’t truly know what happened (they wanted to forcibly make Jesus their king).
During Holy Communion do we truly pay attention to what is taking place or do we see Holy Communion only as some ritual that happens once/twice a month (or however often)?
Do we comprehend that a miracle take place?
Do we truly understand that we are getting a tangible, physical reminder that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (The Body of Christ broken FOR YOU…The Blood of Christ shed FOR YOU)?
Or do we simple walk up front during worship to receive some bread/stale wafer and some wine/grape juice and feel that we have done what we are supposed to do on this particular Sunday of the month.