As I wrote a few blogs ago, I’ve been drinking in Katrina Kenison’s new book, The Gift of An Ordinary Day. It’s beautiful and deep and suffused, I believe, with grace abundant. As Kenison was writing of her traumatic journey through her youngest son’s adolescence, she says that her job was to remind her son of who he was during this time, to “help him remember, through words and touch, who he really is.” As soon as I read these words, an image of Communion came to my mind. As Kenison went on to write that loving her son through words and touch gave her “the faith and patience necessary to survive his painful transformations”, the image of the communion bread and cup grew stronger and stronger. I suddenly came to the understanding that this is precisely the purpose of our communal acts of worship–our holy ordinances, our traditions and sacraments, our sacred rites and rituals.
Taking perhaps ridiculous artistic license with Kenison’s beautifully wrought words, I came to this… Worship helps us in words and touch to remember who we really are. As we take the Communion bread into our hands, as we roll it around our fingertips, the course textures remind us once again of that human body housing the divine which was bruised and broken for us. As we dip the bread into the cup, we are once again reminded of the precious blood that was shed for us for the cleansing of our souls. Yet more than that, we remember that we were redeemed so that we might truly become the people of God. As Paul writes in Ephesians 3:6, we become heirs of the kingdom together with Israel, “members together of one body and sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus.”
It is when we gather together as the Body of Christ, in the remembering of who and whose we are through our sacred acts of worship, that we are able to survive the painful transformations life can bring. In participating in the baptism of a new believer we are reminded that we, as new creations in Christ, have become dead to sin. As we join in one voice that prayer which Christ Jesus taught us, we remember that the kingdom, the power, and the glory of God are eternal, lasting forever and ever. Standing for the reading of the Gospel message, we remember the precious gift of the Living Word which dwells within us…our foundation, our source of strength, the lamp which guides our feet as we journey though life so that we can say with absolute conviction and assurance “Praise be to God!”
Finally, it is in our acts of worship that we come, as Kenison writes of her son, “a little bit closer to understanding his (for us, God’s) true essence.” Kneeling at the altar rail after partaking of the bread and cup, I feel a closeness to God that I feel nowhere else. I know that I am standing on Holy Ground. My soul is laid bare to the Lord who dwells within me. I feel the invisible tie that binds me to those kneeling on my left and right. They are my companions on this journey. And when I rise, it is as if I am being sent forth born anew with the Spirit of the Living God full within me to take and give to a world most desperate with need.
When you enter the house of the Lord this Sunday, let it be with the voice of Jesus ringing in your heart. Hear him say to you again, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Blessings and Peace,