Thursday, November 17, 2011
And HE was With Us There...
I find one of the most emotionally moving aspects to worship in Christianity, is the act of giving of the sacrament of Communion. This is the sacred act of remembrance of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. The night he was betrayed and handed over to be flogged, beaten, humiliated then crucified, he had what we now call the Last Supper with his 12 Disciples. This included Judas Iscariot who left early in the evening to go and betray him to the Jewish religious authorities.
The most profound turn of events occurred later in the evening, after Jesus had humbled himself before his followers and personally washed their feet. I still marvel and am in awe that even in his MOST trying hour, before suffering for all mankind on the Cross, he was showing us HOW we were to live our lives, in the service of one another.
After the main meal, HE took bread, after he gave thanks for it he broke it then handed it to those with him saying this was he body which he was sacrificing for all, for the forgiveness of sins. Then he took the cup of wine, blessed it and then passed it saying this was HIS blood that he shed for us and that this was to be the beginning of a new Covenant. He told his disciples and they in turn told all of us that we were to do this frequently, in the remembrance of HIM.
Ever since I was a young boy, this sacrament/ceremony of Communion has always had a profound and powerful effect on me emotionally and spiritually. Even then I believe, I understood what it was that Jesus did for us that day when he was crucified. Now that I am a Christian and active in a church, Communion is one of my favorite experiences and we share it with each other once a month at Lockwood CC. But each time I do it, it still has the affect of breaking my heart in two to know what my precious GOD did for me...and for you.
Over the many years that I have lived...I have participated or seen communion given in many different environments...huge Cathedrals in London and Coventry, UK, Washington, DC...beautiful Catholic Churches in Columbus, Ohio, New York City and in Petosky, MI. I have even received communion outside around a campfire in Church camp as a boy, and during a High School Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park at the open air amphitheatre there in the park.
And each I witnessed or I partook in this ritual, it was a moving experience. But today I think was the most profound experience of them all. It was the first time that I have ever felt the very presence of God right there with us in the room while the sacrament was being given.
On Thursday afternoons at 2p, I read to a couple that belong to our church who cannot leave their home. I typically go alone or with Kim when she is in town. One of the Elders of our church, a man named Chick also comes out to visit them sometimes and he was the one who originally introduced me to Betty and Lucky.
Life is extremely tough for these good people. Lucky, who cannot really even leave the house anymore, is very sick with more illnesses then I care to even list and Betty gives every OUNCE of herself to caring for him and others in their extended family.They struggle daily to get by but recently have really focused their hearts on God and seek solace and comfort in HIM.
They don't have much to show for in their rough, thrown together trailer in the country, complete with it's chickens and horses. The house is crowded and full of cigarette smoke....It's a hard life for them but they are wonderful people in their mid-70's or so. I don't think I have seen many folks HUNGER for the WORD of GOD like they do. It warms the heart to read to them and they listen very intently.
So after reading for 40 minutes in the Gospel of Mark this afternoon, Chick asked them if they would like to take Communion. In our church the Deacons generally go to shut-ins with Communion but Betty and Lucky are very close to Chick, so as an Elder he can administer the sacrament too.
In their crowded trailer, with their 5 dogs, several cats and little great grandson looking on, we all took communion...I could feel the presence of the Lord immediately, right there with us. I was stunned and could barely keep from breaking out into tears.
I know there are a lot of negative things people say about Christians and Christianity (and until recently I was one of those people saying those cruel and ignorant things!) but if those people could see what I saw, feel what I felt today...I think We ALL felt it...then they would know what it feels like to STAND in the very PRESENCE of GOD.
This to me is what being a Christian is ALL about...a few gathered in a quiet place, no fancy church, no flash, colored lights or loud music, just four people communicating with their Creator...right there where these people live and work. To just read the WORD of GOD, have Prayer then partake in the sharing of Communion in our Saviors Name is more then enough to satisfy our GOD. I felt so CLEANSED, so renewed and I know my faith grew and my heart was opened just a crack more today.
God Bless Betty and LUCKY and let's all think and pray for them tonight...I just thank the Lord for allowing me to be part of that amazing gathering today and to be a WITNESS to his LOVE and GRACE.
What an incredible experience...
(Painting: The Last Supper - Salvador Dali)