The only way to see your true gift in action is to step out and use it.
By definition, communion is:
the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared
Those definitions of the same word, are not always together. Growing up in a church, I have heard a lot of differing opinions about this thing called communion. I was most impacted though, by the teaching that said, “If you take this sacrament unworthily, you can get sick”
That a loaded term.
How will I get sick if I take this bread? Is this some sort of poison that Jesus makes you immune to? And what does worthiness have to do with something called “The Lords Supper”? Are any of us truly worthy?
These are just some of the questions that went through my head. But many still hold this belief. That there is something sacred about some bread, and grape juice. Is there? What has troubled me is that I see this pattern throughout my life; People find what they believe and condemn those who are different.
This friends, is not communion.
Neither is the sick part.
Or the segregation part.
Or the part where people aren’t welcome.
Let’s take a journey.
2000 years ago, you heard about this Jesus.
You heard about what he had done.
How in his last dinner is shared a meal with his close friends and washed their feet. You were caught up in this new kingdom and the possibilities.
You have no New Testament.
You have ancient texts that need to be interpreted for you to understand.
You want to know about Jesus, to celebrate.
You gather with other people of the same belief.
You are sharing stories and talking about what new life looks like.
What forgiveness looks like.
But you came without much food.
You see the wealthier people attending getting drunk on their expensive wine.
“I bet that would taste amazing” you say to yourself.
Then the shame breaks into your heart.
You feel like you have brought nothing.
2 fish and a loaf of bread.
You heard a story once about a boy meeting Jesus and how He turned this small meal into a feast for thousands!
But no one sees your offering because they are too busy eating the food you dream of.
You now feel the weight of being not so well off.
You now feel the pressure of needing to be better with your money so you can drink fancy wine and eat with other people who follow Jesus…
The apostle Paul writes:
“Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.
And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing….
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
Lets get to it.
Ever hold onto bitterness? Studies suggest bitterness, and the feelings of anger and depression that accompany it, may be linked to health issues like cardiovascular problems and a weak immune system.
Now, imagine the person you have unresolved issue with are enjoying their life, in front of you. Yup.
Or to openly come to a church to just get drunk and disregard anyone else to do what you want to….
These things Paul lists for us are based on what we do when we are not considerate of anyone else. When we choose to think that we are better, know more or that the poor should help themselves. When we choose to do nothing about our bitterness and un-forgiveness, and yet come to celebrate the fact that Jesus forgave us forever?
Communion is meant to be this beautiful picture of what family looks like.
Also, what we often miss about this ‘last supper’ is the fact that Jesus washed the disciples feet. That God, washed feet. Dirty, sandy, stinky feet.
This God came to serve, to love deeper than we even understand. We don’t wash feet when we gather for communion, but we can at least have the attitude of Jesus; think about compassion, service and love. We can enjoy our time together as we share equally, together. And, let us not forget the biggest part of this; time.
A community meal is not a quick cup where you take a shot of juice and saltless cracker. It is meant to be a slow, connected gathering. One where time is taken. No one is rushed. Story happens when we slow down. This is not the normal practice, I know. And I get the logistics of how hard it would be for many big communities to have such and experience, but my challenge would be, why not take time? :)
What are you experiences around communion (holy communion, last supper, etc)?
Do they leave you feeling full or unworthy?
Can we shift to understanding how rich it is to commune with God and others?
Can we bring back the importance of acceptance, grace, forgiveness and other-centeredness?
Can we gather and share meals, stories and our lives as a small picture of what God’s kingdom will be like?
Peace + Love,
Another mass shooting in the US.
And another wave of people posting their ‘thoughts and prayers”
Sending your thoughts and prayers is just like saying to someone,
“I empathize with you, but not enough to actually do anything about it”
Or as christian author (Stuff Christians Like and more) Jonathan Acuff would say,
'Sometimes, saying “I’ll pray for you” is just the Christian equivalent of ending a date by saying “I’ll give you a call.”’
Thinking about a situation doesn’t actually help a situation.
Saying you will pray about a situation (and do not) does not help a situation.
See cause prayer might actually help, if we actually did it.
Jon Acuff says, “Right now I have about a 17% success rate when it comes to actually following through on my “I’ll pray for you” statements. I know that’s horrible, but it’s a ten year average and from 1996 – 2004 I was batting about 0%”
Honesty is a good first step!
So knowing this, being honest that when we say 'I'll pray for you' and don't; how much more unhelpful is ‘thoughts and prayers’?
And what are we praying for?
What are we asking God to to?
Are we praying for AR15 Assault weapons to just disappear?
Are we asking for miracle of a waiting period of more than 15 minutes before you can buy one?
Or are we praying for someone, somewhere to take action.
See here is the thing, prayer can be action.
There are things that prayer help to change.
But make no mistake, if you pray and then do nothing else; I am afraid you missed the whole point.
Prayer isn’t just for someone else, somewhere else.
It should also change you.
But I also think there is a larger issue here… So stay with me.
The great Billy Graham just passed away. He was known for being a man of integrity, for preaching the word. He was an evangelist.
And a good one.
He packed stadiums and led thousands to the faith.
He prayed with and for presidents.
He simply was a great man of faith.
But I can’t shake this feeling that there is a change of the guard.
Almost as if with his passing, he has left it up to us to figure out how to expand the kingdom today.
Let me explain.
When Billy Graham started out his ministry, there were no iPhones.
There were barely TV’s. And if people had them, they were black and white.
He grew with television. Using it as a tool to tell people about Jesus.
He Preached the gospel to who ever would tune in or watch him on TV or in the stadiums.
Many thousands responded to that call.
Today, we have the world at our fingertips. Literally.
We have millions of hours sermons and resources.
We have the best of the best available.
And we have statistics. And they tell us a story.
As thousands walked up to the stages to ‘give their lives to Jesus,’ many didn’t join local churches or even go to church at all afterwards. They attended an event. Felt something grab them and responded. As beautiful as the moment may be, giving your life to anything can not be a momentary decision.
For years we have seen preachers hold giant meetings and invite people to come up to the front. Evangelists who speaks to millions of people at a time in Africa and all around the world, see thousands of people walk to the stage to ‘give their lives’ to Jesus….
But then what?
To use a Edgar Nye quote, “a mile wide and an inch deep.” In other words, its one thing to make a choice and another to follow through with it, grow with it and give your life to it. It is one thing to believe in Jesus, another to pattern your life after him, to forgive like him and love like him.
So what does this have to do with thoughts and prayers?
There is a need for the church as a whole to no longer just ‘pray’ about things or send thoughts. People are looking for action. Real, action. And there is a feeling out there that the church is really good at staying within their bubbles. Everyday people are not trusting of churches in my experience. And maybe that is kind of our fault right?
I mean, you can loose years of your life just worshipping every sunday and trying to be a good person. You can read your bible and eat an apple a day and think life is perfect. And if that works for you, amazing! I'm not sure you would want to read on :)
Jesus is looking for partners, not robots. He is looking for workers. People, are looking for action. For us to actually start loving others. For us to stop using the word community lightly and actually start being a part of one (outside the bubble).
The world is watching as churches remain silent and do not act on many current issues.
We stumble around the #metoo movement
We are not transparent with our failures
We create our ‘christian bubbles’ and sell Jesus is my homeboy t-shirts but do not realize how it was child labor that made that other shirt we wear.
And don’t even talk about how we have treated our LGBTQ2+ community
And look, I am just as guilty as anyone else.
But there has to be a time when we realize that a part of prayer is action.
And Prayer needs to be more than, "God I want you to do this" or "God grant world peace"
I think we need to let prayer be a starting point, and action be the next in line.
I think people are looking for love in action. For people who should love like Jesus, to actually love like Jesus. And this is why I think the guard has passed from big massive evangelistic events, to small local gatherings helping each other, growing together and being active in their communities. From the big sexy church gatherings to the real, honest small group where we can share and grow without all the money and emotion.
And why? Because the word ‘Christian’ has be better than this quote from the NRA president, "It's not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright. So I call right now today on every citizen who loves this country and who treasures this freedom to stand and unflinchingly defend the Second Amendment, the one freedom that protects us all.”
We should all be upset about this. Not that he said it, that so many people (christians) believe it.
We should be upset because the loudest voice that should be ours, belongs to the children who are rallying on the steps of congress for change and action.
And we post our thoughts and prayers.
I live in Canada. We are different from America in many ways. Guns for one. But we all can learn something from this,
Our physical communities should be lit up with the radiant love of Christ if we are a part of it. But instead my fear is that for most churches, if they closed their doors on Sunday; the greater community would not notice.
And I am not alone with this feeling. Listen to Brian Zahnd in his book, “Water to Wine” as he speaks about one of his dreams/visions about his journey;
“I was in New York City, the epicentre of modern capitalism, looking for the kind of faith Abraham lived… I was asking everyone I met where I could the faith of Abraham. The peculiar thing was that people seemed to know exactly what I was talking about - what they didn’t know was where to find it.
… At one point of the dream I found myself following the crowd - which rarely is the way to go - being led into a big Christian conference. It had all the things Americans like best - it was big, loud, exciting, and most of all ‘practical’. The worship was entertaining. The sermons were ‘applicable to your life.’ What was being offered were the things you could ‘use.’ I knew this world well. But the faith of Abraham was not there. So I left.
Back outside I began to take the streets less travelled, quieter streets. That’s where I found the bookstore. The difference between the raucous conference and the quiet bookstore could not have been more striking.
In the back of the book store of my dream, still searching for Abraham’s faith, I found Abraham himself-sitting among piles of old prayer books with tears in his eyes. He knew what I was looking for. “
What do you think? Is there a need for churches to start taking more action?
Do we need to get away from the big conferences and start smaller?
Or do we need to just do Sunday’s better?
For Story, we are a smaller gathering.
We are a safe place to grow, learn or be with people on the journey.
And we are learning what love in action looks like.
And it is my hope, my deepest prayer; that Bowmanville is better because we exist.
And if it sounds like something that you are interested in, there is a coffee waiting for you.
To the saint Billy Graham;
Thank you. for your integrity, for your passion and commitment to sharing the good news.
May you rest well in His arms.
This past Sunday we read the verse, “Be still and know that I am God”
Make no mistake, being still is an action.
It is taking time.
It is taking a step out of chaos and busyness of every day.
It is sitting in the middle of the chaos and letting peace overtake you.
Being still is:
An act of trust.
For the most part, I think most of us pray for things and then try to do it ourselves. We don’t trust that God wants to help us or even that he cares. By us being still, we are taking an action or position of trust. Trust that God's timing is perfect. Trust that God does care and that God does indeed want the best for us. Things might not happen when we want them too and yes sometimes he says no, but sitting with that too is an act of trust. It is trusting that God sees the bigger picture and that he knows what we need and what we do not.
An act of rebellion
Almost everything around us today is about keeping you busy and distracted. Whether it is social media or simply the chaos of everyday life. By us sitting and taking time to breathe, reflect and re-center, we are rebelling against the forces and voices that get us distracted and focusing on all the things we wished we had. We rebel by simply sitting and positioning ourselves to be thankful and practice gratitude when the world tries to tell you are entitled to more and you need more to be complete. Rebel.
An act of love
Time spent with loved ones is one of the best things we can do as humans. The act of being still in the moment allows us to be fully present. Here. Not anywhere else. That, is one of the best way we can love. Being here. Now. Fully. Being Still is becoming aware of the present and living in it. Allowing love to wash over you and others.
May you take a moment.
To be still.
To be present.
To trust God and know that he indeed does have your best in his mind.
May you be still and let your mind stop for a moment and trust that God has your back.
May we, rebel together and love deeper.
When we fight as couples and your partner says, “you always do that!” and you clap back, “I have done it 3 times and I can tell you when!”
You may be missing the point.
And sleeping on the couch.
When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. - Luke 22:49-51
There is a point where events often tragedy causes us to evaluate what we believe and why we believe it. This week, a mass shooting happened the US. 500 hurt. Over 50 killed.
There are no words.
What does it say when the best commentary of where we are as a society is that we get the most compelling speeches and calling for change from comedy shows. From Jimmy Kimmel to Trever Noah to Steven Colbert; they are all using their times, their stages to say one thing; enough is enough. They are calling for action. Change. Not the poilicians, the people in charge…. the comedians. And I think that should have us concerned; that the only way we can deal with the reality of today is from comedy shows.
Recently in my timeline, someone posted, “Australia still has violent crime. Just because they made it illegal to by assault weapons, doesn’t mean there isn’t gun violence”
When your personal safety is your number one concern, the kingdom of God can not be.
How can I say that? I mean, who am I to even say that?
And enter the ‘What about’ or ‘What if’ statements. “What if a burglar breaks into your house! You wont kill him? After all, the bible says ‘do not murder,’ it doesn’t say do not kill”
Right….. See here is the thing; if someone breaks into your house, and you are actually home, I am not sure what you or I would do. We all hope that this never happens and for about 99.9% of us, it never will. But having a gun, in your house does not help. All it does it make sure you are ready to kill someone if they disturb your sense of security, if they invade your space or threaten you.
But when you are a Jesus follower…. what then?
When you submit your life to follow the teachings of Jesus….
Do you think Jesus would say, “Yeah its cool to kill someone if you ‘feel’ threatened!”
We want our pound of flesh for someone invading our safety.
We want to eradicate any notion that the world is not what we want it to be.
We are just, like, Peter.
Peter wants his piece of flesh.
He wants to physically fight, to kill for his saviour.
It is honourable, but wrong.
I think we all would want to do the same, and we would be wrong.
Jesus says, “No more of this”
Jesus is against violence.
He heals the broken, binds their wounds.
If you are a Jesus follower, a christian and you want to advocate for guns, maybe you should honestly ask the overused and cliche question, WWJD? Because I have the feeling many of us would like to follow Jesus after the just war theology was introduced and wars were fought in “God’s name” which killed thousands for a piece of land (aka the crusades). Rather than the beginning where people we killed, hung on crosses and died simply because they believed the message of Jesus.
War. In the name of a non-violence message of Jesus. It does not work.
Maybe you have never thought about this and I hope this helps have positive and honest discussion, but you can’t have the discussion if you are too busy cutting off ears.
Why advocate for guns?
Why would you think it is a ‘right’ to have power to kill?
Jesus… says…. No more.
We all have a choice in this world of how we should live.
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and we all should be looking to do just that.
We Need this message of hope, life and love not advocating for guns!
We need reconcilers and people to forgive when there is no reason to forgive.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. - Matthew 6:14-15
the story continues…
I have written and not published so many blog posts.
Seriously I think I have about 50 just in a folder on my laptop.
Why haven't I posted them?
I think it stems from a post I did one time.
It was simply meant for conversation, but many were not ready for that conversation.
As a result, I ended up being forcefully told to take it down.
It took me a while to even process what all happened.
Sometimes I feel like posting online is like stirring a glass that has sediment on the bottom.
Almost everyone has stuff they haven't dealt with (the sediment) have just learned to let the crap go to the bottom. As a result their glass looks clear and clean, when in reality, the crap is still in there.
I realized a long time ago, that I am a spoon.
And that spoon is not always welcome.
If you were to think about your life, what does your glass look like?
Is it clear because you haven't dealt with the stuff that it hard?
or is it clear because you were brave enough to mix it up, get dirty and deal with it?
I am not sure we ever truly get to be fully clear, but I think every time we share about the reality we do have crap in our glass, they cleaner they become.
There is a quote my Maya Angelou that I find compelling,
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Our stories, our sediment is meant be be shared. What happens when we refuse to acknowledge it is that we become disillusioned. We focus on letting the sediment go deeper so no one will see it.
We become isolated and alone.
Our pursuit of appearing clean becomes our goal, rather than the reality that you (like everyone else) has dirt in your cup.
In sharing story, we see that others have sediment too.
In sharing story, you hear two of the most beautiful words, “me too”.
Alone, we can not get our cups really clear.
We need help. We need love.
See when we are truly loved, it is like adding water to our glasses. And by adding water, our cup is stirred.
It gets dirty.
But as more water is added, more love being poured in…. something happens.
The dirty water is being replaced by fresh water.
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ - Jesus
let the love,
the acceptance of Christ flow in you.
realize that in every moment,
you are surrounded by the ocean of Gods love.
What is a little sediment to an ocean?
the story continues…