You are invited
It is another month and another spiritual discipline - this time the discipline of taking Holy Communion.
We meet together 6 times a week to pray as a community and we have been including communion in all our prayer and Sunday worship times together for the last week. It has come alive for me in a fresh way like never before. In my study time it has been fascinating to explore some of the meanings behind what the bread and wine mean. I will share with you in future posts this month about what I have learned, but even though I have started writing 8 posts so far this month I have been really struggling to get one to flow and 'work'. Today I gave up on my writing time as I got so frustrated and prayer and trying to push through were not working! I left the café I had planned to spend the afternoon writing in. I got back to my bedroom and did the Beth Moore study on David that I am doing with some fellow missionaries instead. And of course, today we were studying about the Bread of the Presence! As I finished doing the study I finally felt I had a post to share with you. It is a bit like a meditation and so you might like to read it slowly and think about your own reflections and responses as you go...
You are invited to a table. It is set simply: a large loaf of bread and a silver cup of wine. It is an invitation to a journey as you join the others there slowly eating the bread and drinking the wine.
You are invited to stillness. Savour the moment slowly. The week has been long and the pressures overwhelming. Just sit a moment and breathe deeply. Nothing will rush you away. Soak in that silence and allow yourself to become aware of God’s presence surrounding you, enveloping you, within you. You are invited to stillness.
You are invited to say sorry. Recognizing the warmth of God’s embrace, we realize we have left it. We have moved away and become so preoccupied with worthless things. We recognize home and realize we have wandered the streets both day and night for too long. We are the daily prodigals and our Father stands waiting daily to welcome us back. He receives our confessions. He radiates love as he hears how we went wrong as we endeavor to turn back onto the right path again. He relishes us recognizing the divide we had put up between us and Him and He is so forgiving and excited as we say sorry. Again. There is no sorry which can’t be met with ‘I forgive you’ from Him, no sorry which won’t be met with ‘I love you, it’s okay - I made it okay. Welcome home.’ You are invited to say sorry.
You are invited to remember. Jesus did it with his broken body and poured out blood. He was the one who made our mess-ups into made-ups. He was the one who broke to mend the Great Divide. We remember his pain, his willingness to suffer, and we are amazed with his trust in His Father. We, the ones unwilling to give up small comforts like an extra half hour in bed or a day without food to seek His face, and yet he walked a lifetime towards the goal of giving up everything for love of his bride. Because He remembered the Promise, the everlasting Covenant His Father had made to his people to make a way back to Him. He became the Bread of the Presence, the reminder of the Everlasting Covenant, which had been placed in the Holy of Holies. He became that Promise for us. And we so quickly forget that Promise of His presence. You are invited to remember.
You are invited to weep. Weeping with his brokenness for us, weeping that we have been so careless and frivolous about our sin again. Weeping that we have cared so little that our preferences and fancies have led us away from His holiness. Weeping for a world so entangled with envy and evil and every form of wickedness and hate. Weeping for our own hearts which so quickly share in the world’s judgements against others, from politicians to the people God picked for us to live with. Weeping for change. For the kingdom to come through. You are invited to weep.
You are invited to hope. As we weep at the brokenness His heart speaks one simple truth: HOPE. Because of that broken body and bowed down blood we can have hope for our hearts and hope for humanity. We can celebrate that He is now King, He is alive, He is the Resurrected One! He reigns victorious and His kingdom will come and when it burst through entirely it will be for eternity. The cup Jesus accepted, an invitation to suffer, became the Promise of the Father to betroth a bride for His Son. The preparations have begun for a bride without stain, the rooms being made up but we must await without weariness, not knowing the date. But the Father hasn’t abandoned us here, too busy with wedding details to notice our cries from the sinking sand. Instead at every chance He gets, whenever we look up to Him, we notice He is pouring down blessings and romancing us with gifts - from the arrival of help in a friend during a time of need, to a silent sunrise or a timely word. A zillion kisses from heaven. You are invited to hope.
You are invited to celebrate. Celebrate His victory, obtaining eternity and unity. Celebrate that the broken ones are coming together as a body to remember. Celebrate that He turned what looked like a hopeless, crushed situation - a human who spoke promise hanging helpless on a cross - into a resurrection, a reconciliation and an eternity of reinstated wholeness and oneness. Celebrate the little victories - getting up this morning, enough money for a coffee, an argument resolved, a healing from a cold. Celebrate health or help, wealth or weakness, beauty or struggle - knowing that He is found in all of them. You are invited to celebrate.
You are invited to intimacy. As we share in his sufferings and share in his joy, we find ourselves knowing God. Just as Biblical intimacy was ‘knowing’ someone, we come to ‘know’ something of Christ. We see his face from a different angle. We see him in a new light. His eyes glisten in ways we have never noticed before. We find ourselves in a place we never want to leave. We are humbled by all he did for us - his obedience and submission. We are in awe of his kindness and love, given so freely that is it never forced upon us. We see his brokenness and are overcome by thankfulness. You are invited to intimacy.
You are invited to die. As you look into Jesus’ eyes full of love for this world, you can’t but help notice the tear in the corner for those who are still without His closeness. As you look into His eyes, you fall totally in love with the One who has saved you - who found you and brought you into His heart. And you know at that moment you would do anything for Him - go anywhere, give anything just to be where He is. He is home.
And then He shows you where he is: with the messed up and the broken, with the afflicted and the infected, with the needy and the grieved. He is sitting with the annoying and the hungry and the fleeing refugee; with the vulnerable and the lonely and the ones in poverty. He is standing beside the mothers with no energy, the marrieds who hope there’s more, with the teenager wondering what the future has in store. He holds out arms to the orphans needing cuddles and to the teachers needing space, extending hands towards the shop assistant who needs to know about God’s grace. You recognize that to remain with Him you have to die to yourself and embrace his cross daily - say yes to love. You are invited to die.
You are invited to live. As your soul surrenders and hope of dreams fizzle out, you find yourself in the tomb of unknown. But as you lose yourself, you find yourself coming alive in Christ. Embracing His brokenness and poured out-ness become the way to everlasting life. Because Jesus’ journey never ended in the tomb - that got turned into the second beginning. The start of the fully-alive and supernatural body — the one which could eat and disappear and walking through walls and be touched and all that. Eternal life - a body clothed with life that couldn’t be killed again. And so we, as we eat the bread of brokenness and accept the cup of suffering will also live forever. You are invited to live.
You came to take a simple loaf and a cup of wine upon your lips and you found yourself in love once again. Now, as you return to the world, know that it is the broken and the poured out ones who point the way back to God.
You are invited to a table. It is set simply - a loaf of bread and a cup of wine. Will you accept?
This post is the first in a series this month on the spiritual discipline of taking Holy Communion. It is part of a year of embracing grace through spiritual disciplines. You can read more about the year here.