There was once a father who believed in boundaries. He clearly defined them for his family. Sometimes the children thought the boundaries were too much. Since the father was gracious and kind, the children would ask the father about the nature of these boundaries. The father would carefully explain why they were necessary. The children did not necessarily like the boundaries, but they trusted their father. As they grew, the boundaries became fewer and fewer. The children were becoming accustomed to the boundaries and the routine they produce. They liked the fact that they knew what to do and what not to do. So, they assembled and formed a committee called CCPB—children concerned for the permanence of boundaries.
They approached their father and said: “Father, we don’t like that you are giving us more freedoms. We don’t think we are ready to live without these boundaries. We are surely going to perish.” The father hugged that lovely committee and said: “My children, it is time for you to take my boundaries and apply it to your new communities. You need to embrace your new freedoms and create your boundaries based on what I have taught you.”
The committee quickly disbanded and went their way eager to apply order to their new-found freedoms.
Beloved, our freedoms are never devoid of boundaries. Order is always on the table; without it, the table comes crashing down. Our Lord gave us this orderly institution. We are not to follow it mechanically, but joyfully. The same God who gives us order is the God who gives us abundant joy.
The time was nearing the confession of sins in church. The young lady filled with pride said to herself: “I don’t need to confess anything, so I will just mumble through these words.” After the confession, the people arose, and the minister said: “Your sins are forgiven!” The young lady said to herself: “I don’t need any sins forgiven, I am just fine.” Then the Lord’s Supper came, and the minister repeating Christ’s words said: “This is my body which is given for you.” Again, the young lady said: “Given! I don’t need anything given. I take what I want.” Later that afternoon the young lady was going for a run with her wireless headset cherishing her favorite tune and undistracted enough to not see a car running through the stop sign and coming rapidly in her direction. Just then a good Samaritan grabbed her by the hand and drew her back just in time to avoid the certain tragedy. She took a second to recompose herself after realizing what happened. The good Samaritan looked at her and said: “You could have died.” “Yes,” she said. Thank you for saving my life.” At that moment the young lady realized that life is not about possessing, but receiving with a grateful heart the gift of a life-giver.
Indeed we come to this table having our sins forgiven and lives rescued in Jesus Christ. We now taste of his sacrifice. Let us come not proud, but with humble hearts for God has delivered us from sure death.
As we come to this supper, let us remember that we are a body of believers who belong to one another in a biblical sense. This belonging means we don’t assume the worst of one another but seek to esteem others better than ourselves.
The Resurrection of Jesus created this newly gathered body, called the Church. Of course, the Church had existed since the Garden but never has the Church possessed such glory, such overflowing joy, and such unity than when she was bathed in the Resurrection waters. The Old Church needed a thorough cleansing, and from the empty tomb flowed these rivers of life that begin this washing and cleansing of Christ’s Bride. Christ was raised for the sake of His Bride and World.
This meal is a continual celebration of the empty tomb. This is why this is a table of joy. The last Supper is now replaced with a new Supper each time we meet. And because this is a new meal it never becomes bitter to our taste. His mercies are new each time we gather as Resurrected people. Come and eat.
What does the Lord’s Supper mean for us as a people? It means so much to the partaker that we could spend a thousand years and yet not fully cover its wonder and splendor. The reason the Lord’s Table says so much to the people of God is because it is given by our Lord. This is not a Reformed table, it is the Lord’s Table, and it is an open table to all baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And as an open table, it communicates all that is true about Christ—his power, his grace, and his mercy; it is communicates all that is good about Christ—his provision, his desire to complete the work He started in us; and it communicates the beauty of Christ—his majesty, his love for His saints.
The Lord’s Table means that Christ is true to His promises, good to His people, and lovely to those who put their trust in Him.
So, come and dine, infant and aged, weak and strong, this table is true, good, and beautiful, and the Lord invites us to join in this meal!
…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have goo news preached to them (Mat. 11:5).
The prophet of the New World is here and his name is Jesus, the Christ. The prophet bids us come and dine with him.
He gives us a table of certainty. Here Christ gives himself for his sheep. Here we see clearly more so than our first century forefathers that the Son of God brings a kingdom that shall have no end. But beyond that, this table is for us a memorial of mercy. It was nothing but the grace of God that caused the hand of God to extend us mercy rather than doom. We are recipients of the body and blood of Jesus not because of our loveliness, but because Christ in the incarnation of love willingly gave of himself to us. We have received the objective pardon from the true prophet of Israel, and that pardon comes through death and resurrection. Let us dine with One who gave us sight, made us to walk into newness of life, cleansed us by the washing of water and word, gave us ears to hear, raised us from the dead, and preaches good news to us.
I have been reading through Alexander Schmemann’s The Eucharist. The book is just a delightful read through the lens of Schmemann’s “unorthodox” view of Eastern Orthodoxy. At one time he takes to task the Orthodox Church for having separated the priest from the people. He argues that certain priests have become like soldiers keeping the people from participating in the assembly. At another time he argues that the Church serves to unite the people of God, not divide; a concern Schmemann has with the prevailing “clericalism.”
Schmemann writes with a somewhat evangelical zeal against his own, which is reason for the intense distaste “pure” orthodox converts have for him. But the most delightful part is when he delves into the nature of the Church. He observes that we come to worship not for individual prayer, but to “assemble together as the Church.” The assembly itself is a holy constitution, and in that the first liturgical act.
In his chapter on The Sacrament of the Assembly, Schmemann deals with the holy office of the minister (priest). He observes that the minister wears white because it is the garment of the baptized. By wearing white he is representing all the baptized in the community. When we enter into the house of God we are entering “clothed in the garments of new creation.”
What we experience in this pluralistic culture is the death of objectivity. But in a world created by God and glorified by Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, we can say that this food is for us in an objective way; in a way that truly does accomplish its purpose. What does this meal do? It gives grace to those who eat and drink by faith, it encourages the broken-hearted, it offers hope to the doubter, and it strengthens the saint.
This is the objective reality given to us by an objective Christ; the only true Lord of history and the one who always provides for his children.
The topic of food is one that comes up quite often in this season of Lent. Providence Church believes fasting is biblical, but we have not issued a fast for the Church. So we have not approved any any practice over another. Individual practices or the lack thereof are left to the discretion of the individual family during the week. Rather, as a Church, we focus on the worship observance of Lent in preaching, singing, and colors. We don’t want any Lenten food factions; no eating of a particular brand or a particular type of food will give you any greater special grace in God’s sight. Similarly, no giving up of a particular food or habit will get you closer to God unless it is grounded in the act of repentance and good works towards God and man.
In this Lenten Season I want you to remember that “Christians have only one food law: Take, eat; this is my body. Only one food unites us, the bread and wine of the Lord’s table.”
We can have all the diversity on our nutritional choices, but at this table there should be no division or doubt that this is God’s food for us.
 Leithart, http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2013/02/24/exhortation-128/
This Trinitarian life is given for us in many ways. The God who is Three and One gives us Bread and Wine in the midst of the congregation. The Oneness of this body is joined with the Many bodies worldwide forming the glorious body of Christ.
As we eat and drink, remember our oneness in Christ, but also remember our diversity. We are not robots made the same way with the same personalities, rather we are image-bearers, or better, worshiping humanity, made differently, but exalting as One the One who is One and Three.