Saturday, July 12, 2008
Church and the Community
Communion: a religious sacrament in the Christian tradition; IE taking wine [or grape juice] and bread as a corporate act of worship and remembrance of the death of Jesus the Christ. The wine being a symbol of his blood, and the bread a symbol of his body; both broken and spilled out as a sacrifice for humanities re-inclusion into Gods ways and love.
Chew on that religion jargon tidbit!
Communion, what a funny word. Half of it seems to be headed towards the words community…commune…things like that; and the other half towards union…unity…etc.
And yet many people think it is an individualistic religious thing. As if the only defining meaning for it was “feeling” spiritual and connected to God. And as if the only filter to taking it [or not] was some vague sense of goodness, worthiness, or having not really screwed up morally lately. The fact that we do it as a group seems so lost at times.
But communion is ALL about community. Not just with God, but with each other. It is a reminder that he dies for US. And that his death would initiate a new community…a spiritual family. This idea stretches way…way beyond being a consumer and deciding what church we like…way beyond just attending some spiritual service….way beyond just being a member of some altruistic non-profit organization. It is a call drawing us to Jesus. To the Jesus who made us and died for us. To Jesus who commanded us to love one another just as he loved us. To Jesus who told us to continue his mission of making followers and disciples.
So then we come to communion very differently if we think about these things. We come to be reminded of who Jesus is and what the cross accomplished for us. We come thinking about how we can love one another more like he desires us to. We come ready to share ourselves…our gifts, money, food, lives, and grace with one another. We lay down selfishness and judgment even as our Jesus did. We choose again to deny ourselves, pick up a cross, and follow him.
To make it simple we choose to love. Not love in some vague feeling sort of way. But love that is blood, sweat, and tears. Love that is costly and precious. Love that is sacrificial and takes the form of a servant.
Love that looks like Jesus.
“And by this shall all men know that you are my disciples; that you love one another even as I have loved you”
Labels: one service
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Bono said in the song "one" :
Is it getting better, or do you feel the same?Will it make it easier on you, now you got someone to blame?You say one love, one life, when it's one need in the night.One love, we get to share it Leaves you baby if you don't care for it.Did I disappoint you or leave a bad taste in your mouth?You act like you never had love and you want me to go without.Well, it's too late tonight to drag the past out into the light.We're one, but we're not the same.We get to carry each other, carry each other... oneHave you come here for forgiveness, Have you come to raise the deadHave you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your headDid I ask too much, more than a lotYou gave me nothing, now it's all I got.We're one, but we're not the same.Well, we hurt each other, then we do it again.You say love is a temple, love a higher lawLove is a temple, love the higher law.You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawlAnd I can't be holding on to what you got, when all you got is hurt.One love, one blood, one life, you got to do what you should.One life with each other: sisters, brothers.One life, but we're not the same.We get to carry each other, carry each other.One, one.
When I think of church I always see it as an outsider. I wasn’t born or bred into it…I was adopted late, and they always seemed to look at me like a freaky stepchild. Church folk still do.
So I complained and criticized; bitching and moaning about how stupid and insipid the whole institutional religion thing was.
Until I met Jesus words: “Make them one” and “I will build my church.”
And suddenly I realized two things. One was that he was praying for these nutty things, not as organizations but as an organism…a living thing. Something precious to him with all it’s flaws and silly misadventures. Secondly I suddenly realized that he was STILL building it. And If Jesus was cool to me, and becoming my mystical best friend…I ought to be with him helping him do what he loves to do…build [and rebuild over and over] the church.
And one day as I was working with him I suddenly had something happen [in the words of Bruce Almighty] I got to see her “through God’s eyes.” And that was the day I fell in love with this crazy thing called church. All kinds of churches. Like a garden full of different flowers, each unique in its own way.
Somebody reading this might say…ya, I think God is cool and all but the church is just…ugly. And I might agree, and then smile at you and hand you a paintbrush and say “let’s you and me, help Jesus make her beautiful again!” We all want a second chance, let’s give church the same thing on July 27th. After all NONE of us want to be hypocrites; let’s “carry each other” instead.
Labels: one service
- Whose Kingdom Are You Building?
“All I want is to expand the Kingdom of God.” Really? Not me. I want people to know who I am. I want my peers to acknowledge me. I want to do something big for God and at the same time leave a trail that leads to my web site. I am self-serving. I wish that weren’t the case. Am I normal?
I used to wonder how the Pharisees drifted so far off course. Now, being a Christ follower and a spiritual leader for a number of years, I see how it happens. We begin with pure, godly intentions. God blesses our efforts, and some rewards come with it. (Let’s call them “perks.”) After time, we feel entitled to those “perks.” After more time, we get competitive and begin to compare ourselves with others. When that happens, our efforts are more about being first than making a contribution. Then jealousy and bitterness take over. All of a sudden, we get caught up in building our own kingdom.
Here’s how I wrestle with this tension. First, I admit that it’s real. Stop denying it. We’re human. We’re flawed. We’re prideful. Second, compensate for our selfishness and pride with generosity and sacrifice:
§ Pass along the great idea even when you know it won’t be traced back to you.
§ Give credit to others without mentioning your level of involvement.
§ Stop worrying about your position on the org chart. Instead, focus on adding value.
§ Allow anonymity to be an act of worship.
Have you been down this path? How do you wrestle through it?