Saturday, November 21, 2009
We can thank Christ when He says through James: (4:7), "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Since I could not participate in 'communion' as a non-member at the church I regularly attend, I decided to go to the next 'plain' church 45 minutes away, so as not to have to sit around on communion Sunday and get bored. I'd known these 'plain' folks for about two years and we considered each other faithful brothers.
So the following Sunday, as I finishing up conversation and was getting ready to leave late in the afternoon, here came the sales pitch, and it was explained to me that I needed to submit to a church. For Jesus said that, 'if you don't eat of this body and drink of this blood you can have no part in me'. It was explained to me therefore, that, sooner or later I was going to have to submit to a brotherhood or, implicitly, I could have no part in Jesus. It was also suggested to me that I could not be a member of that church if I was not going to be there regularly. And the church I was presently attending was also not acceptable because of their gospel message fell short.
I was not acceptable for membership in the church I was already attending due to my use of musical instruments and some forms of technology such as the Internet. The two churches in question where simply not acceptable to each other. Nor was any other church, to either one of them. To them, in joining any other church than their 'own' respective church, I would be falling away from the true faith.
So what is a poor fellow to do?
So now, I can't have a part in Jesus in any other way than but through the brotherhood? I thought the Reformation had already occured and that it was already widely known that men can't place themselves between God and men?
Do you see my predicament here?
Has anybody read the book "Catch 22"?
Is this really where some men think Christ has left us?
Well of course it's not where He's left us.
I didn't come right out and charge him with trying to be the Pope. I simply saw it as a good opportunity, even a necessity, to go home and plan for the following Sunday a Lord's Supper celebration at my place. By myself. Others optional. Membership in Christ's Body is all that is required. Others are welcome, but not necessary.
The more I thought about it the more I realized I had been asleep on the issue here and that there was a vital and important spiritual exercise I had been passing up.
Oh! The new found joy that I had only before taken for granted. Christ's invitation was actually for even me!
_________________This morning is the Lord's Supper Sunday morning celebration. I dropped my ten year old daughter off at church, fed the animals and came inside.
My bread had come out of the oven about an hour ago. It smelled great and I thanked the Lord for it. A few minutes earlier, on my way in, I started to plan. My immediate inclination was to go to the Gospels for the Lord's instructions and start there. But then I remembered them very well already, and, wasn't I supposed to already know the instructions and actually go on and 'commune' with a memory here? Sure the Body and the Blood, but 'what' was that an invitation to remember?
Weren't those instructions permission to open the floodgate of rich memories about the Man who was... God, revealing Himself to us and calling us to reunite back to Him in His Kingdom? All expenses paid! For free? Not for free!; but for an immense price, which, 'He' has already paid, Himself!, for us? That such a magnificent thing is not free! But [yet], yes, it 'is' already paid for -- by Him. With His Body and His blood. Instead of ours...for us, because we can't pay it, but are allowed to eat of the sacrifice, and drink of His sacrifice, with thanksgiving, as we remember His sacrifice, and the love for us He has that caused Him to 'be' the sacrifice, and consequently be punished and put to death, instead of us. And that, while we would have stayed dead, and deservedly so, He did not, so that, through faith, we would not.
Uh-oh...that is truly difficult to comprehend. But there it was, and there it happened.
But oh...,it's true. Through the witness and subsequent testimony -- and, ohhh...the blessed memory -- of those faithful witnesses who saw it! and testified of it!, -- of God having come down to earth to walk among us -- and the indelible memory they were shown, of God Himself! testifying to us, through them, after which they could not help but to keep telling everyone, and anyone they could get to, of, it!, until their dieing day, and that!, is how we remember!
Oh yes,...I remember now.... And thank you for that reminder...it is a rich memory, and, I am going to cherish the opportunity to abide there in it now. Whew. When - do - we - - - start?
In just about every "communion" I'd ever been a part of, there was usually a sermon, after which were read Jesus' instructions, then we ate, and then drank, and that was about it. There was very little remembering -- if any. At least 'time' given to it. Not any moreso than during your average Sunday service that is. Maybe that winds up to be the difference between, "communion", and the Lord's Supper. It was promoted as 'communion', but there was not so much communing being done. And not even that much "Lord's supper" being done. Maybe it was just me. I will allow, that, it was just me. And, that those days are now over.
So... I remembered....
God..., had come to earth with great news. And this... He did not want me to forget.
My very memory of Him was meaningful to 'Him'; He wanted 'it' there. And so, if it is a meaningful thing to Him, then it is a great blessing for me, to possess... and abide in.
So I let my memory unfold itself. I remembered what He had done in my life. And in my daughter's life. And in my remembering... I was free to laugh, and cry, or to just shout out; and marvel; at will, and, in private.
And I ate...and remembered...and I ate...and I remembered.
Of course the dog had to make an appearance. "Do I throw her the crumbs, or not, I thought?" ...I thought, not.
I went to the Spirit of Christ in me and I just abode there in thought. Not asking. Not telling. Not seeking wisdom. Nor comfort. Just seeking memories from His Word, which God had left us a memory full of, of His having come to His earth; in the flesh; to reveal Himself; to His creation.
Remembering also the promise He had made when He had come. The promise that He would pour out His Spirit on us when He left. And the promise that He would return again, and that, until He came back, His Spirit would dwell here with us, inside of us, until He came back.
Remembering again what He's done in my life. And what He's done in the lives of many people I know.
Remembering what He said about things to come. And remembering what I can do in anticipation of those things.
This thing would not be complete without mentioning that someone from church then showed up. I confess, I had not invited anyone. But they were concerned about me. I was concerned that they might be concerned me... and show up. My memorial celebration came to an abrupt halt much sooner than I had planned. He came primarily because he had been hoping to wash my feet. I appreciated that. We appreciate each other. After a long discussion (unfortunately on something all we Christians can share in common -- that is, misguided denominational doctrine), and, in spite of it, we washed each others feet, broke bread and drank from the cup. I lectured him on coming not to understand the issues that divide us but to simply further his own poorly thought out opinions(to which in all fairness should be added "in my opinion"). I had him thinking anyway. Always make sure your are invited to a Lord's Supper or risk being uncerimoniously 'judged' by the host.
When he left, it was hard to get going again. And it was no longer necessary. There's no need to wallow overly long at one sitting in Christ's memorial. I had had almost an hour in it and that had been sufficient. Subsequently more important is the present and the future. There's now plenty more to do, the more of which, will make my next Lord's Supper equally as rewarding.
He said, "do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me".
I'm going to do this every three or four months.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Although, there's lot of experimenting going on here.
About 8-9 years ago I was doodling around with Christmas Carols on my guitar around Christmas time and discovered how much I liked this hymn when I slowed it way down and rounded out the 'B' part. It's a nice melodic presentation of some great words.
The day before yesterday was the day in which I finally had a little time to get it down on the recorder. I had to do a 'voice' check. To see if my voice could 'handle' singing this one yet. Not because it was a good day to see how my voice was progressing, but, because I had the time. And in the process was pleased to find out that the voice is about half of the way there. 'There'? I guess, 'there', is wherever it happens to 'be' when it quits getting any better. Hopefully a few years away yet.
You'll notice as you listen to this recording, that I still can't sing. But it's coming. I haven't given up yet.
Someone with a voice should record this one.
I just needed to get this hymn out there and get it started. It has a long way to go. I will be updating it often -- musically and vocally -- but needed to start here. I badly need to sit down and redo the guitar track. I recorded it quickly a couple years ago. It's hard for me to get a clear product out of my recorder. Once you sit down to play this thing on the guitar it's hard to quit. Maybe a better guitar player than myself could send me one?
It works! It's still a beautiful hymn even after I've finished with it.
These words cause me to break down in joy. The melody puts me away into a rich state of thanksgiving to Christ. There's a joyous message here from the writers of this hymn. I hope I came close to delivering it here.
Friday, November 13, 2009
"I never cared to meddle with things that were controverted and in dispute among the saints, especially things of the lowest nature. Yet it pleased me much to contend with great earnestness for the word of faith, and remission of sins by the death and sufferings of Jesus. But, I say as to other things, I would let them alone, because I saw they engendered strife, and because they neither in doing nor in leaving undone did commend us to God to be His."
"Many poor men and women are illiterate and untrained, and these would find deep thought to be very heavy work. Others are so light and trifling by nature, that they could no more follow out a long process of argument and reasoning, than they could fly. They could never attain to the knowledge of any profound mystery if they expended their whole life in the effort. You need not, therefore, despair: that which is necessary to salvation is not continuous thought, but a simple reliance upon Jesus. Hold you on to this one fact—"In due time Christ died for the ungodly. " This truth will not require from you any deep research or profound reasoning, or convincing argument. There it stands: "In due time Christ died for the ungodly." Fix your mind on that, and rest there."
Thursday, November 12, 2009
But I'm going to do it next Sunday. I'm going to drop my 10 year old daughter off at church, come home, and bake some bread. Maybe I'll even use wine though I don't think I own any. I don't think I will use wine just so as to avoid any hint of drunkenness -- I don't drink much, so I will probably notice the effects a little too much. Even enjoy them, though I've never been prone to alcohol abuse. So I'll just use juice in any event, and that way nothing will get in my way.
I'll invite a few people from church, although they will all be at church and unable to come. Maybe some will surprise me. I hope not. Although it would be glorious if some did. But they just partook together last week -- after examining each other. And I could not.
I wonder if Jesus wanted us to examine each other. Judge each other. Public testimony for "confessions" and "to clear things up"! Being sure not to commit the unpardonable sin of "pride", and, "rebellion" by "going your own way" without accountability to the brotherhood. My Pastor surely did.
Did I ever let him have it.
My initial experience in seeing the Lord’s Supper at Gleason Mennonite Church was that it was well patterned after the original in scripture. Public “self-examination”, sharing of the bread and the cup in reverence to the memory of the Lord, foot washing, hymn singing and fellowship. In communion with one another according to what He had told us. It still is. But with condemnation added that neither Paul nor Jesus include. At least that kind which last week's sermon had brought in.
Let me explain what I mean.
17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Just an additional thought: he’s not saying that there “should” be heresies among them(opinions opposed to the established views), but rather that divisions and heresies are a certainty('must'), they are expected, and it is necessary('must') for them to show themselves so that the view which is approved, that view which they oppose, may be made manifest, or 'made known'.
But now on to the Lord’s Supper.
20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
He said what they are doing is not the Lord’s Supper. It’s a church meal. And not even that properly done. It’s not being done together or in common. There is partiality, sectarianism and even some drunkenness.
21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, andanother is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Jesus gave thanks, explained what it stood for and asked us to partake in it, and in doing so, for us to remember Him.
Now is an explanation by Paul:
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
In my opinion, Paul is saying the offender is guilty of eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord unworthily, or, doing so without giving it it's proper worth, or it's proper respect. Regardless of what he actually means, Paul then goes on to explain how to be free of that 'guilt'.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily,(or, other than as Jesus told him) eateth and drinketh damnation( or, judgement ) to himself, not discerning the Lord's body(as the Lord prescribed, and every believer would be familiar with).
So the guilt is not discerning the worth of the body and blood of the Lord. A symptom of spiritual inattentiveness and weakness. An unfortunate, even insulting position before the Lord.
30 for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.(spiritual sickness)
Paul continues then with his thought from v. 29 above as to drinking judgment on ourselves by not discerning what Jesus asked us to remember about Him - His sacrifice and the covenant.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
What does he mean “judge ourselves”? He means “examine” ourselves. As in “Let a man examine himself”. Are you discerning the Lord's body? And when we do so we are not judged because we have done what was asked by Paul and implied by Jesus.
If he does not judge(examine) himself, then he will drink judgement to himself. “Eateth and drinketh damnation(judgement) to himself .
The word “damnation” here is a questionable translation of the Greek word 'judgement'. The KJV is a “thought for thought” translation, and in this case their 'thought' gives debateable meaning to the literal word in question. Even though there are places in scripture where 'judgement' is used to mean 'damnation', using the word “damnation”, in this instance, gives it a value that the Greek word does not, in that, “judgement” can mean either ‘condemnation’ or, the opposite, 'aquittal'(and anything in between).
The word "damnation" is seen only in the Syriac manuscripts which overall contain wide variations.
The word "damnation" simply does not fit. Jesus says nothing about 'damnation' in his asking us to 'remember', and Paul simply warns that we will be chastened if we disrespect the memory of the Lord's Supper, and not be 'damned' as unbelievers. "Damnation"(judgement) above simply refers to the act of 'judging' or 'being judged', not being 'damned' or 'judged unto destruction'.
We faithful will all be “judged”, at the Judgement Seat of Christ, but 'aquitted'.
Paul specifies how these violators at the Lord's Supper will be judged immediately after mentioning it.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
They’ll be chastened, or, punished unto correction; not condemned as unbelievers. Then he summarizes his thoughts telling them to do the Lord’s Supper not as divided into factions; and not as a mere meal; but rather a sacred memorial. Not presuming to eat the Lord's Supper without remembering it's meaning and intent.
And for whatever my opinion is worth, before or after a meal, as distinct from the meal, would suit it just fine. Perhaps ideally it might even be done wholly apart from a meal. But not as a meal.
As in accordance with normal Christian doctrine, the only 'ones damned' would be those who eat and drink 'without being believers', and they would have been damned before they ever arrived to eat and drink, and will continue to be, as their unbelief in 'Jesus as God on earth' continues. A believer will not slip from God's saving grace just through the careless labeling and eating of a fellowship meal.
Then Paul finally concludes with:
33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation(this is also a presumptuous translation of the Greek word “judgement”). And the rest will I set in order when I come.
And isn't Paul here summarizing the main point of the whole exchange. 'The Lord’s Supper is not a church social meal where you break off into your favorite groups'. Examine yourself to see whether you are in the spirit of hunger and revelry, or rather, in the Spirit of remembering our Lord.____________________
And, bless his heart, my pastor agreed with me.
I haven't told him yet though that next Sunday is a Lord's Supper celebration at my house.
Nor have I told him that I will not be available for his or anyone elses 'examination'. Just "not available", sorry. Just going to enjoy the Lord's invitation and, take, and eat, and drink, of Him and His memory. The memory of Him telling us about Him and the Father. What He did for us. How He is here with us now. And will take us to the Father when He is ready.