Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 29

What I Read Today: Luke 22 & 23.

What Stood Out About What I Read Today: Luke 22: 14-20, “Now when the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles joined him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

I know.

I know.

I read a section on the crucifixion of Christ and I’m not going to talk about it? Mind you, I’ll have three more times to talk about it over the course of the year at least (and that doesn’t even include the mentions in the epistles) and I’ve got something else I want to talk about today.

Communion.

And this goes back to my childhood in the Episcopal Church. I’d been going to this church since my mom was old enough to put me on the cushioned pews to sleep when I was old enough to leave the house. I was baptized as an infant there. And I grew up in the relatively highly liturgical church. The room was made of dark hardwoods with high ceilings and soft lighting. There was a processional every week with a gold cross and flags and singers and then the minister. There was a lot of the pastor saying things and then we’d say things back in unison. There was a padded cushion to kneel on at every pew for the times of prayer. There was a 10 or 15 minutes sermon that wasn’t called a sermon. Stained glass was involved, as was incense.

Then things changed in the service.

Special candles were lit.

The minister would lift up bottles that had water and real wine in them. He’d mix them in a silver chalice. Altar boys/girls were at his beck and call, bringing a small loaf of bread to break and handing all sorts of cups and bowls and moving huge Bibles out of the way. They’d eventually move a special part of railing into place to make the area big enough to serve an entire row of people who were told they could walk up by more altar boys/girls.

We had to take a class at age 13 before we could actually take communion. Until then, we’d just walk up with our row and the minister would put his hand on our head and say a blessing. I remember the first time I got to taste the real wine and remember how it seemed to sting my tongue and throat, but it still seemed cool.

Then afterward, the clean up would take place to get the altar back to what it looked like before communion started. Then there was more responsive reading, we were given a blessing and we were on our way.

But the focal point each week was communion. No question. It seemed so special even if, as a kid, there were about 100 other places you thought you’d rather be…until it come time for YOU to join the altar boys/girls and then you had all sorts of stuff to do for that 20 or so minutes each week.

And it was special…even if I didn’t know why.

Later on, I went to a Bible church that did something very similar. Brass trays were involved that held individual cups of grape juice. Another brass tray came around that held different bits of cracker.

But the words were the same.

Both were “doing this in remembrance” of Christ. Truth be told I liked both of the services. I like the idea of it.

And here’s why: Hope.

I’m not sure I really paid much attention in my confirmation classes because I was pretty sure the blood was symbolic of Jesus blood and the bread represented his body and I was pretty sure that just going through this made me closer to God somehow and to the people I was with. I was pretty sure I was supposed to remember what He did for me…which I did. Which also led to some sort of time of confession where I brought up whatever a kid of that age confesses to God.

As I’ve grown I realized I was missing out on one of the main joys this passage points out.

Yes. I got the unity thing with other believers.
Yes. I got the remembering what Christ did for me and for us.
Yes. I got the symbolism.
Yes. I was aware that there was a new covenant–even if I wasn’t sure, exactly, what that means.

But did you catch what Jesus said in the verses I highlighted?

He wanted to eat this Passover with them before he suffered. The work he was going to do for them.
The meal was with them. He was eating with friends and was close to them and they were unified.
He told them the symbolism so that when they did it later they would remember Him.

But there were two things that I’m sure they remembered much, much later:

First, Jesus wouldn’t do this type of meal again until it was fulfilled in His Kingdom.
Second, Jesus wouldn’t drink wine until He did it when His Kingdom comes.

Future events.

Suffering would happen.
Time would elapse.
Then there would be a time when they’d be together again and do this same thing.
Jesus would wait until then to take part in it.

And, frankly, I’m looking forward to that day…which, in a weird way, reminds me of that song by Audio Adrenaline about the Big, Big House, with a great big yard and a great big table…it’s my Father’s house.

There will be a big, big house.
With lots and lots of rooms–where we’ll be dwelling.
And a great big table–with lots and lots of food.

And our King.
Who has been waiting a long time…
…to do this with us.

So communion is special…for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned.

But even moreso because it lets us all look forward in hope.
To that day when He welcomes us home.
And we’re all together in His Kingdom.
At that great big table.
Breaking bread with our King.
And drinking the finest fruit of the vine.

And I believe that is reading a history book forward.
It will happen.

And it gives me hope…

…because if this world is all there is, even at best, it’s a 90 year spin and we should eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

…because I don’t believe that this world is all there is. The Kingdom does exist and all believers will be there. So the next time communion takes place in your church, whether silver chalices are involved or plastic cups, enjoy the shadow of what it will be together in the future in that great big house, with a great big table…

Because it will be.

And it will be more glorious than words can describe.

Manalive.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Finishing Luke 24)

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