Today's Scripture Reading
Institution of the Lord's Supper
14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.
19 And he took bread, and when he had given 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.
A writing assignment during the a long ago Lenten study had us putting five “unrelated” phrases together into a coherent narrative. I needed to relate birthday dinners and communion when it occurred to me that communion is a birthday dinner, a gift from Jesus to a community of Christians. In my culture, birthday meals honor and celebrate in community -- Jesus asked us to gather together to remember him. He didn’t tell us to go in our closets alone to remember him, but to gather as a community to eat together. Though I have long known that I need to be in Christian community, I never thought of the public-ness of communion as a gift before.
I am probably a good American, of “rugged individualism” stock, to have to be pleasantly awakened to a gift of community. In Israel’s early history, according to my Bible dictionary, the Passover (which was why Jesus gathered with his community for the Last Supper) was a family festival – not a solitary one. The First or Old Testament is the story of a people, a community, in relationship with God; the Second or New Testament is the story of that community’s relationship with Jesus. Is it just good Americans who read the Bible to find out only how individuals should have a relationship with God.
The Sunday after that Lenten study assignment I had a really hard time sitting still with my head down in silent prayer and reflection during communion, which was my usual communion attitude. I wanted to have a community meal that honored Jesus. Quiet, solitary prayer during communion is important and meaningful to me. But now I also want a birthday dinner with my brothers and sisters in Christ. So that Sunday, while I gratefully ate the communion meal, I kept my head up and looked around me in love and appreciation for my church family, and with thanks for Jesus’ gift of community.
Commuion with the DisciplesNet community might include one person sitting alone in a room and another person sitting in a computer lab in another town, someone else is in a different state, and others in different countries. But we still gather together as a community around Christ's table, in the name of the one who joins us togher.
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