At Bloom, the culmination of our worship gathering is the moment when we come – broken, weary, and stained, as a family, to the Table. We see our gatherings as an intentional journey into the deepest recess of Divine Holiness where together we encounter the Risen Jesus… we become partakers of the Mystery… and then are sent back out into the world as salt and light. Everything moves towards the Table. It is the coup de grace of what we do.
This past weekend we had the good privilege of having our brother Rusty Gates bring the word to us, reminding our community just what it is we do when we come to the Table and why it is important. His teaching was beautiful, and I asked him to guest post a sketch of it here at the blog. So much of the “why” of communion for us is contained here, and I think through his writing you’ll see why we think coming to the Table as often as possible is so important to us. So enjoy, and feel free to interact with Rusty in the comment section below.
As members of the Body of Christ it is important that we understand why we do what it is that we do, and that it actually mean something to us. Two millennia ago, Jesus, the Son of God, instituted a meal that was to be done in remembrance of Him, what we call Communion. This meal was to be a sign, an encouragement, a gift given so that his disciples would persevere, looking always to His return.
In the midst of their trials and persecutions, it was their gathering and sharing of this meal that was to remind them of the bigger picture.
This meal is celebrated in the Church across the world today. But why? What does it mean?
2 Samuel 9 tells the story of David and Mephibosheth. I encourage you to read the whole passage, but basically, David, the new king of Israel searches out Mephibosheth in order to show him the kindness of God. Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul the first king of Israel, and the son of Jonathan, David’s best friend. At the time when David seeks him out, Mephibosheth is lame in the feet, staying in a town far away. David sends his servants, brings Mephibosheth to the palace, and there bestows upon him all of the riches of his grandfather, Saul, and ensures his provision and support for the rest of his life, the culmination of which is David’s declaration that Mephibosheth shall eat at his table all the rest of his days.
We have to consider the story from Mephibosheth’s perspective. He was grandson of the king, son of the prince, in line for the throne, but at the time of David’s ascension to the throne, he is alone away from the kingdom…
Things were not as they were supposed to be.
But that’s not the end of the story. Rather than dying alone, anguishing the loss of the throne, Mephibosheth is found, brought to the kingdom, provided for, and sat at the kings table. David shows him the kindness of God. And in turn, Mephibosheth falls at David’s feet, pays homage to him, and takes his place at the king’s table.
Mephibosheth was alone and he was shown kindness and love. He was exiled away from the kingdom and David brought him to the king’s table giving him the wealth of a king. He was broken and unclean and David accepted him, restoring him to royalty. And all of this was made known by a meal.
This is our story.
If we are honest, all of us can identify with Mephibosheth. We simply have to look around and we’ll see all of the things in our lives that are screaming, “Things are not as they’re supposed to be!” We feel the pain of broken relationships and say, “This isn’t right.” We feel the sorrow of missed opportunities and say, “This isn’t how it was supposed to be.” We feel the regret of bad decisions and lament, “This isn’t how things were supposed to turn out.” But like Mephibosheth, that isn’t the end of our story…
God in his great mercy and love sent his Son Jesus to bring the Kingdom of God to us.
When questioned with whether or not he was the one they were waiting for as the Messiah, Jesus responds, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 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 good news preached to them.” (Mt 11) In other words, Jesus tells John’s disciples, “The story isn’t over… things are changing.”
David sought after Mephibosheth and God sought after and is seeking after us. David sent servants to bring Mephibosheth back to his rightful place at the kings table. God sent his Son to do the same.
Jesus, on the last night with his disciples institutes a meal. Scripture reads,
“The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Co 11)
We are in the middle of the story. Theologians often refer to our situation saying, “Already, but not yet.” Through Christ, Scripture says, “We have been made more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” It also says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Rom 8 )
But we know how our story is going to end. Christ came, marking a dawn of a new day, the coming of the Kingdom of God, the fulfillment of which will be marked with the making of all things new where as Scripture says, “God will wipe away from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
God has done a great work through His Son redeeming us, restoring us back to our place as royalty, marking it with a meal.
So in Communion we REMEMBER. We remember what God has done through Jesus and all of the greatness which that entails. We remember that, like Mephibosheth, we have been given a place at the King’s table. We who were lost and alone have been found and redeemed.
In Communion we PROCLAIM. We declare God’s goodness in what He had done and recognize that it is HE who brings us to the table. He sought us out, He brought us to himself.
In Communion, we WORSHIP. As Mephibosheth fell at David’s feet and paid homage, we come to our King and declare all that is true of Him, recognizing his goodness and grace and mercy. We worship him in gratitude for His provision. We worship him for his love.
In Communion, we SURRENDER. We come to the Table broken and hurting, but surrender to the King’s view of us. David saw Mephibosheth as the grandson of the king, God see’s us as His children. While we may be tempted to focus on our brokenness and unworthiness, we surrender our own understanding of who we are to that of who God knows us to be: royal sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ.
In Communion, we ANTICIPATE the return of Christ, remembering that the story isn’t over. We look forward to the day when Christ will return and death shall be no more. We look forward to the re-creation of all things. We look forward to life and light and glory in its fullness.
May we REMEMBER, PROCLAIM, WORSHIP, SURRENDER, and ANTICIPATE as often as we gather for this meal. May we trust the goodness of God marked by a meal. May we all grow in the knowledge of Christ that through him we may be lights to the world, glorifying His name until his glorious return.
Grace and Peace.