Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Supper of Grace


One of the wonderful perks about having your life floored by God's grace is when He takes the false burdens out of the religion you thought you knew. I just finished reading "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey, and God lifted the heaviness out of the Lord's Supper for me.



What do I mean when I say there was a heaviness in the Lord's Supper? Well, maybe you've read these words before:

"Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats the bread and drinks the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Cor. 11:27-29)

I don't know about you, but that was enough to put more than a bit of fright & hesitancy into me before taking the cup & the bread! I remember C.S. Lewis telling of his younger days in "Surprised by Joy", when he took communion without fully understanding or believing. About this he lamented, "I drank to my own condemnation".

The words "A man ought to examine himself" were somehow really loud in me. I grew up in a church that was big on keeping the Law, becoming perfect and hammering into us that "You'd better be ready when Jesus comes!"

The words about communion seemed to mean:
"You'd better be reverent when you take communion!"
"You'd better be worthy when you drink it!"
"You know what might happen if you take it unworthily!"


In those solemn, somber moments of the service before the anticlimactic eating & drinking, I held the bread and the cup in dread, trying desperately to search my soul and muster up all of the sincerity I had within me. I wanted to be totally honest in giving myself to Him, but inside I knew my heart was still sinful, so I couldn't make myself feel wholly given to Him. Even if I'd been on a religious 'high' and in a personal revival time, I could never feel certain that my whole heart was "right" as I ate & drank.

Let me pose a question: How truly "ready" and "sincere" were Jesus' disciples when they were given His body and bread to eat?

HELLO!!

They all fled away from Him later that night. They, too, couldn't stay awake and pray for Him when He needed them the most. (Have you ever fallen asleep while trying to pray or listen to someone speak about God?) One struck out in anger when God's will was being fulfilled, and three times he would later deny that he knew Jesus at all. And after Jesus rose from the grave, all the disciples thought the ladies were crazy and their words were "nonsense". Were these guys any more "worthy" to take the bread & wine than you or I?

C'MON!!

Think about it. Why was He giving them His body and blood anyway? Because they were worthy of it?

NO! He gave them His body and His blood precisely because they were unworthy.

He gives us His perfect body. As a result of His broken body, our bodies are healed. His life (His blood) was given to us who were dead, so that we might live. He gives us His perfect, sinless body and His everlasting life in His blood not because we're worthy, but because we are unworthy. Because we need it. Because He loves us so much and wants us to be with Him forever.

Simply put, the Lord's Supper is God setting the table, giving us His Son, giving us grace to bring us home to Him.

"This is My body, broken for you, given to make you whole."
"This is My blood, poured out for you; it is everlasting life."

This cup is for us! This body was given for us!

Are you sinful? His body was broken for you! Are you shamed? His blood flowed freely for you! To "receive" the Lord's Supper truly means to know you are unworthy, and to simply accept the grace He is giving you. He knows you're not worthy. He knows you don't feel honest. And this is His answer: He offers you His Son's body and blood. You don't take the bread & cup because you are clean; you take them because you are unclean.

Looking back at Paul's words, I read them in context and discover that Paul isn't asking us to try and muster up all our good righteous feelings in order to take the cup "in a worthy manner". Instead, Paul is telling us that we need to try to live in God's agape love toward one another, because that is the very love that God is giving to us. What good is accepting His forgiveness if we aren't willing to give the same forgiveness to others? The people were butting in front of each other to take more bread & wine, and making divisions & factions among each other to show who had "God's approval" and who didn't.

Like the Pharisee & the tax collector. One came to the temple and said "I'm glad I'm not a sinner like that guy" and hence prayed to his own condemnation. The other said, "God, I'm a sinner; have mercy on me" and was justified by God. Or like James harping about how we aren't keeping any real law as long as we're showing favoritism and insulting the poor among us. Eating & drinking the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner means that we take the body & blood as grace from God, not as something we have earned. Paul points out that as we take His grace, we live in grace towards one another. How absurd is it to live in 'un-grace' while in the very act of symbolically accepting God's grace?

So let's put this "weighty" dread behind us! I'm looking forward to the next time I take communion! The burden is already lifted! We can be free to rejoice in the Supper the Lord has given us! And we're to give that cup to others, too! We're to invite people to His Supper! We're not to invite those who are worthy, but those who are unworthy! And we all---the unworthy---will accept His grace to us together.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Kakkoii Yoko


Yoko, Marvin, and advanced technology

Well, we finally hooked up our latest bit of truly awesome technology. It can play songs! Whole albums, I tell you! And it's so awesome that it can go for a whole twenty minutes on its own -- no interruptions! That is one-thousand two-hundred continuous seconds, people! And then all you need to do is flip it over! Brilliant! Now we get to hear the Beatles, Earth Wind & Fire, Tchaikovsky, and other awesome things like Bach and Stevie Wonder. What's your "i-pod" got on that, baby? Ha!

*****

P.S. Please read my latest prayer request on 'Agapetos': http://www.xanga.com/item.aspx?user=fulfilledinjesus&tab=weblogs&uid=349427098

P.P.S. Please also join in week of prayer for North Korea: http://www.xanga.com/item.aspx?user=fulfilledinjesus&tab=weblogs&uid=349435514