Tag Archives: Luke

Communion

This week, I got to hang out with my collection of various relatives that I call my “small kinfolk.” It’s way too complicated to trace how we’re actually related. The two six-year-olds and the two-year-old think I am one of the coolest almost-grown-ups they’ve ever met, and the 7-week-old tolerates me, which I can accept.
So, on Christmas Eve, since each one grabbed one of my hands and pulled me down the pew (and because I bask in their attention), I sat between the six-year-olds Evie and Abbi. Between each verse of the service’s carols and after each sentence of the readings I got to inspect a new drawing or new spelling of my name. I also ended up covered in Abbi’s glitter since she sat in my lap. (Side note: the degree to which one is covered in glitter by a small child is an objective measure of how much fun one had.)
At some point, the outer rows of the church started to make their way to the front for communion. Since Abbi’s parents did not attend service and are not Christians, I realized the should-the-six-year-old-take-communion question was up to me for that evening.
I bent my head around the glittery child I held in my arms.
“Abbi, have you ever taken communion before?”
“I don’t think so.”
Thinking communion was a big word, I asked, “The piece of bread and the little cup of juice?”
“Oh yeah, I think I have.”
“Do you know why we take it?”
Silence.

Oh goodness, I think, how do I condense 2,000 years of tradition and various debates about Communion into a minute-long explanation to a kindergartener during a church service?

“Well, Abbi, we eat the bread and drink the juice because Jesus asked us to. Every time we take Communion, Jesus wants us to remember what He did for us. Jesus died for us so–”
” –so we wouldn’t have to die and we can go with Him to Heaven.”

I smiled. “Exactly.”

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. – Luke 22:19-20

Who cares if you understand trans- and con-substantiation, symbolism, communion/eucharist/Lord’s Supper, or wine vs. grape juice? Since Abbi understood what Jesus’ death meant for her, whether or not she understood exactly what death is, she understood Jesus’ point in instituting Communion. He asks us to break bread and drink juice in remembrance of Him.
And so I took my small kinfolk down and held her hands out for bread and juice.

Thank you, Jesus, for your gift. Ευχαριστω.

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The Shepherds’ Annunciation

Today, our pastor gave a sermon entitled, “The Horrors of Hell, the Beauty of Christmas, and the Glory of God.” What a message.

His words about announcement to the shepherds in Luke made my mind soar.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them, and they were filled with fear.

These shepherds were sitting in the field in the middle of the night, keeping one eye on the sheep and likely talking about daily life in Bethlehem. Then, the Lord’s messenger appeared to them. The Lord’s messenger!!!! Remember, God had not spoken to the people of Israel for four hundred years prior to Jesus’ birth. Until the announcements to Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds, God’s chosen people had seen and heard no messengers for many years, through many tribulations. And what an announcement the angel brought!
My mind went to my own life, when I haven’t heard God’s voice in a year and a half, though I have clearly seen His hand working.
The glory of God shone around the angel and the shepherds. God’s own presence was there with the angel, announcing the birth of His Son and the world’s Savior.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people! For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Oh, what good news! A great joy!! I want to climb on top of my apartment roof and shout it to the world!!!
Jesus is HERE.
My sin deserves an eternity in hell for its great offense against God. I deserve to be punished with unending fire in a place of agony, where I constantly long for just a drop of water, a place with no escape or cessation. Nothing would ever stop this punishment, and it is completely just.
Yet Christ, the Lord, is born! He has come as one of the race condemned to death to live under the Law and to save us from it. Because He has come, my sinful soul is counted free. God looks at me and sees not the rotting stain of my sin, but the blood of Jesus that covers me.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Kyle pointed out today that the phrase “heavenly host” means, not the hosts and hostesses of heaven, but the angelic army – the warriors.
I absolutely love this image. Luke says that the heavenly host suddenly appear, singing praise to God. I get the image that the host hadn’t planned to appear before the shepherds; they were remaining invisible behind the one messenger. However, when they heard the messenger’s message proclaimed out loud (“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”), they couldn’t resist hiding anymore and came forth in their full glory. They likely understood more of the miracle of Christmas than the shepherds did, having an intimate knowledge of the original fall and the time of purity before it. They knew why Jesus came and how absolutely absurd it was, and so they burst forth shouting loudest praise to God and proclaiming God’s blessing to His people.
Oh, what Joy to the world! Christ is come!

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