Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Feast

Last month, we had a special feast.  It was called an "Israeli Supper" in the cookbook.  Each person got a hard boiled egg, a bowl, and a paring knife.  We had a bowl on the table filled with raw vegetables, a loaf of bread, a pot of tea, and butter, jam, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  This simple supper was made special with the table settings handed down from my mom, the handmade placemats from my cousin, and the handpainted lazy susan from my mother-in-law, along with vegetables from a nearby farm.

The idea of the supper was that each person assembled his own dinner.  You got a veggie out of the bowl, cut it up with your paring knife, put it in your bowl, and then got a different veggie and repeated until you had a salad.  Then, you cracked open your egg and crumble it over the veggies.  Add some olive oil and salt and pepper, and there you go!  A nice piece of bread with butter and jam and a cup of Constant Comment tea and you had a meal fit for a king.  With fresh fruit for dessert, of course.

The kids thought this was the most fun they'd had in a long time.  If I had asked them to chop vegetables up for a salad, they probably would have grumbled a bit, and then done it.  But this was fun!  And delicious.  The four of us sitting around the table, cutting and talking and eating and laughing, surrounded by items which reminded us of family members who are far away in distance but never far from our hearts.

Today our church celebrated the sacrament of Communion.  We do this the first Sunday of every month.  It is a feast, but not like the one in the picture.  It isn't colorful or abundant or fun.  But it is important.

When we gather at the communion table with our church family, we are joined together with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, from every age, sharing in a feast that began so long ago in Jerusalem.  And the memories aren't in the table settings, but in the joining of our spirits to those of all of the saints who have gone before, and all of those who are to come.  And the food isn't the kind that fills our bellies, but the kind that feeds our souls.

I hear so often that God is everywhere, and you don't have to worship him in a church.  And that is true.  In fact, those who only worship Him in church are missing out on most of their lives.

I hear that you can worship God by yourself, and that is true also.  In fact, those who spend no intimate time with God, by themselves, are missing out on most of God.

But I have tried to worship God on my own, without being joined to the universal church, and it just didn't go well. It was too easy for me to get involved in other things and to forget to spend time with Him.

We have things in our house which remind us of friends and family members.  Gifts or pictures or letters or even e-mails on the computer.  And it's not that we would forget everyone without those reminders, but it's comforting to have them near us.

The church is our reminder of our brother Jesus and our Father God.  Singing together, praying together, hearing the message together, and yes, even eating together, are ways that we can connect.  To each other, and to God.

Communion was given to us by Jesus as a reminder of what He did for us, just as the Jewish holidays were given to the people of Israel as reminders of what God had done for them.

We have added holidays over the years like Christmas and Easter to help us remember Jesus, and to help us remember to teach our children about Him, but the sacrament of Communion was the only celebration that Jesus actually asked us to remember him by.

 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.  Luke 22:19-20

The body given for us on the cross, and the new testament, or covenant, in His blood, shed for us.  Do this in remembrance!

Without the cross, and without the resurrection, Communion is just a snack.  A bite of bread and a sip of juice can hardly be called a meal.  But Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35) and the living water (John 4:14).  He promises that anyone who comes to him will never hunger or thirst, and will have eternal life.  What other meal can promise that?

Have you been trying to go it alone?  Maybe you've had a bad experience in church, or maybe, like happened to me, life has just pulled you away.  I encourage you to try again.  See if there's a church near you that you can become comfortable with.  Pray for God to show you where he wants you to be.  The early Christians lived in community, meeting together daily!  I think we can manage to put up with each other once a week!

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