communion and a gospel of grace

Originally posted by Maggie, Jon’s comments have been interwoven in italics.

We love being a part of the Table community. A huge part of the Table’s ethos is celebrating the sacrament of communion–coming to the table together to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When I last wrote about communion at the Table, our practice was kneeling to receive the elements. Kneeling is poignant because it symbolizes submission in a culture that ridicules it. We’ve transitioned now to receiving them from individuals who offer the bread and grape juice, saying:  The body of Christ, broken for you.   The blood of Christ, shed for you.

On Christmas Eve, Jon and I served communion at the 11pm candlelight service that is our first true Christmas tradition together. It was more meaningful and much more profound an experience than I ever expected.

Part of the meaning of communion is the communal aspect of it. If there’s ever a time both culturally and spiritually when we should be in community together it’s on Christmas. The first communion was both a time when the disciples could individually connect with Jesus by taking part of his body and blood (though they didn’t realize what it meant at the time), but also with each other. Jesus shared a meal with his disciples. I found it really meaningful to break bread with a large portion of our church at Christmas by offering them communion as Jesus did. 

You see, we preach a gospel of grace. We preach it with words: handwritten or typed, proclaimed or whispered, blogged or emailed. We preach it with our actions, too. We preach it to those who have never experienced that grace, but we also preach it to one another, who have.

This gospel of grace is essential to my life, to my very being. There is not a day I move around in this world without being covered by grace, extended to me by the most perfect Father I could ever imagine–whose love does not disappoint. That gospel of grace is a perfect human being, willing to give up his body and blood, that I may be restored to right relationship with a God whose perfection demands justice for wrongdoing.

I do not deserve that kind of grace. And yet I have received it. On Christmas Eve, I had the opportunity to remind others of the grace that covers them, too. What a powerful moment. This is the blood of Christ, shed for you. For you. And for you. And for you.

Shed for all of us! The other great part about sharing communion with each individual who comes through the line is that you get to look them in the eye and say the most earnest thing you could ever say to a person, “Christ’s body broken for you.” For those of us who grew up as pastor’s kids, we can become desensitized to all the really meaningful words we are saying and something as sacred as communion can be routinized. Serving communion on Christmas, however, you inevitably run into people who do not know how to do communion or not quite sure what it is other than the religious ritual. At the Table however, by our very name, our community tries to emphasize communion as a time to receive God’s grace. I especially enjoy sharing this grace with the people who are slightly awkward and not sure what they are doing. I almost want to  say “No, really! Christ’s body is broken for you too!” These are the people who remind me, “wait these really are meaningful words, I’m talking about someone who gave their life for a stranger!”

I just wanted to remind you today: the blood of Christ was shed for you. That is a gospel of grace I will never tire of preaching.

2 thoughts on “communion and a gospel of grace

  1. Jennifer says:

    We’ve been considering coming to check out The Table at CPC but have not wanted to step on your toes. I know, that’s so weird, right? But it’s such a personal time and I haven’t wanted you to feel like you won’t be as comfortable (or yourself) if we are also there (yes, this is projection at it’s finest). While we love our faith community, something is definitely missing from masses. I don’t feel the fire inside me while we are at church. I miss that. We’re searching for that….

  2. […] and partake of bread and the wine in the sacrament of what we now call Communion. We’ve written before about the way we participate in Communion at the Table. To us, communion is a sign of the new […]

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