Aug 7, 2006

(un)limited supply

Today I went to two different church services. The first was to cover a story for the newspaper... because (again, I love saying this) I am a "mild mannered (freelance) reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper." The second was the local congregation my family and I are a part of.

In any event, at the first service I had a chance to participate in communion. Although I also had this opportunity at the latter service, I thought it might be kind of cool to connect with another group of Christians via this ancient practice. And so even though I was there "on assignment," I took part in receiving the passing of the elements.

The first one to come by was a tray of bread. Actually, they were the mini-crackers that look like someone pumped up some air into them. I snagged one and waited for the cup to come by.

Only... when the tray of juice came around it was empty. The dude next to me grabbed the last one, creating a communion confusion for me. At least, until the usher came back a minute later with a cup from another tray.

During those 60 seconds, though, I got to thinking about the blood of Christ and how we often wonder if it will ever run out for us. Whether it's a pattern of selfishness or a particular sin we find ourselves drawn to, we can sometimes drive ourselves crazy wondering if we've tapped out the assumed portion of grace that we believe we've been given. "After all," we reason, "I couldn't go on sinning without at some point exhausting the supply of forgiveness God is willing to offer me through Jesus."

Here's where whatever your own brand of theology kicks in. For some this seems like a non-issue because it's all about the "once saved, always saved" ideal. Others fear that if they make a bad call in life of any measure that their salvation is severely in jeopordy. Then there are those who haven't yet embraced a relationship with Jesus Christ and figure, "It's all bunk anyway because there is no way I could ever outdo all of my bad choices with good choices."

Take your pick, but the bottom line for all three is that every one of them needs Jesus Christ. Thankfully, he's still in the business of offering himself to anyone who would receive him.

And so just when I though the "blood of Jesus" had run out for me today... I ended up getting it after all.

Maybe that's just a symbolic experience of communion.

Or maybe it's a communal experience of something more.
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:20)

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, $cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he
has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:14-15)


bigwhitehat said...

As you already know, I come from a tradition that takes communion every week. I must say that the real confusion comes from passing the trays around. You would think that doing this each week would lend it self to folks not getting freaked out when something happens. Not so. It is quite entertaining sometimes.

The other thing that blows my mind is how folks still pray poorly in worship. They typically resort to some wrote memorized little speech that often misses the point of communion in the first place.

After leading prayer at communion, folks find me after worship and tell me that they never looked at communion that way. And they thank me repeatedly. The sad thing is that I did not do that great of a job. I just got up there and shared my communion thoughts with God and man. These folks are motivated by the comparison to wrote little speeches.

Thanks for this post. It is exactly the type of thing that we all need to read.

Jim Martin said...

Tony--This is a very nice post! Thanks. A good reminder.