Dear Friends,

In his book, Showtime, Todd Bolsinger quoted a nationwide poll asked that asked, “What word or phrase would you most like to hear uttered to you, sincerely?” The top three, in order, were:
1. “I love you.”
2. “You are forgiven.” And, believe it or not, in third place was
3. “Supper is ready.”

Tod Bolsinger Blog

Those poll results not only express the longing of our hearts, but those three phrases also capture what the sacrament of Holy Communion is about — in fact, what the Church is about.

Last week we began a new worship series entitled Sanctuary. Sanctuary — the word brings to mind a place of refuge or safety. We even use the term for nature reserves, which are safe places for animals. Of course, in our context, we think of the worship space that we call the sanctuary. In this series, we’re looking more closely at our beautiful worship space, seeing the symbols there and tying them in with scripture.

This Sunday, our theme is “Communion.” In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul passes on to the Corinthians the tradition of the Lord’s Supper:

23 I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. 24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” 25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.

Look around in our sanctuary, and you will see symbols of Holy Communion. There are grapevines everywhere — as we saw last Sunday — reminding us of the cup of blessing we receive in communion. On the front of the communion table, there is a sheaf of wheat, reminding us of the bread we receive.

In the service of Holy Communion when we receive the elements and then when we leave the service, we experience and live out those three critically important and life-giving phrases:

“I love you.” In communion, we remember God’s unconditional self-giving love for us and the call of God to love others as we have been loved.

“You are forgiven.” In communion, we experience the forgiving and restoring grace of God in Christ and the call of God to forgive as we have been forgiven.

“Supper is ready” — In communion, we have God’s invitation to come to the table, to receive nourishment for our souls and to be in communion with others. We also remember that God calls us to go from the table to invite others to the table.

Writer Nancy Mairs tells about what communion came to mean to her when she came to her present church during a serious illness without having experienced conversion:

The model I experienced [at that church] was one of inclusion rather than exclusion. Instead of being denied communion unless I converted, I was given communion until I felt strong enough to convert. The nourishing quality of the eucharist freely offered to anyone who’s famished, has always been a central metaphor for me. I don’t partake because I’m a good [Christian], holy and pious and sleek. I partake because I am a bad [Christian] riddled by doubt and anxiety and anger: fainting from severe hypoglycemia of the soul. I need food. [Mairs, Nancy. Ordinary Time (Beacon). Quoted by Martin Marty in Context, March 15, 1994]

Notice how Mairs talks about the nourishing quality of receiving communion as part of a community. “I was given communion until I felt strong enough to convert.” It’s always important for us to feed our spiritual lives at home, through private prayers, personal Bible reading, meditation on the call of God, and so forth. That’s eating at home. But when it comes to the life of faith, we also need to “dine out,” when we can, in company with other Christians.

I look forward to Holy Communion and exploring these ideas of communion with you this Sunday — live in-person and online from the sanctuary at 11:00 am.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor

1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Common English Bible (CEB)

23 I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. 24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” 25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.

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