People who read this (if there are such people) have probably noticed the trendy little tag cloud in the bottom-right corner of the front page. I put it there mostly as an exercise in playing around with ikiwiki, the wiki compiler that generates what you see here. The unintended consequence has been a harsh light on the fact that I’ve posted much more about gaming and programming than about faith and scripture. These are the things that are supposed to be primary, but I pay them much lower attention than comparative trivialities.
I can provide all kinds of excuses for this (a lack of focus doesn’t imply a lack of esteem); but, in the end, my actions define who I am, not some abstract internal definition of self.
This bit of naval-gazing comes to a point now as I prepare for my upcoming lesson to be presented at our worship group this Friday. As is my pattern, I will attempt to prepare in a publicly-visible place in hopes that it will spur me to action and follow-through.
In our last meeting, Amir asked how often we were going to share communion together. Though Mark and I had discussed it before we separated into smaller groups, we only came to a position of “as often as is meaningful.” That can be a bit nebulous in practice, so last week we decided to pray about it separately and come back together on Friday to discuss it (and definitely at least share communion then).
For what it’s worth, I plan to make sure that I have suitable elements (bread and grape something) set aside and available whenever we host worship, so that we’re not physically constrained in the future.
In any case, all of this got me thinking that we could probably do with a lesson about communion: it’s history, purpose, and meaning, or some such thing.
I don’t have much for reference materials. I left most of my books on Christianity in the ’States back when we were ignorant about customs, so aside from my Bible I mostly just have the Internet. That’s fine in theory, but my aforementioned lack of faith-focused action means that I don’t have a lot of trust built up around online Christian reference material. I’ll do what I can, though.
I keep wanting to jump back to assumed parallels with the passover meal, searching for explanation before question. In order to stop that, I’m going to focus on the gospels first:
John 13:1-16 John’s gospel doesn’t deal with the use of bread and wine as a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, but talks about foot-washing as a symbol of servanthood. It might not be directly related to communion, but its presence at the same point in the timeline makes me think that I should be thinking about it.
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Writings and such by John Piper.
My glances over this so far focus a lot on transubstantiation vs consubstantiation vs symbolism, which isn’t really where I want to go with this lesson. There’s probably other useful stuff in there, though. (There might be other writings on communion elsewhere on the site, too.)
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-ot-lords-supper-the-nt-passover This one in particular calls out parallels between the passover meal and the intention of the lord’s supper. That definitely interest’s me, but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.
Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology
Alex sent me Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology this morning (awesome!) and pointed out the chapter that deals with communion.
BC sacrifices serve as a reminder of sin (Hebrews 10:1-4)
AD communion is a reminder of Christ’s death being the absolute sacrifice for sin
AD communion is a reminder of future celebration in Christ’s presence (do in remembrance of me points to the future, too, when Christ will again “drink of the fruit of the vine” with us)
Random, likely untrustworthy, sources
http://christianactionforisrael.org/judeochr/passover/supper.html (communion and the seder)
http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/exodus10.htm (remembering the passover and exodus)
http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/passoversup.html (passover and the lord’s supper)
Read the story of the Lord’s supper.
Christ is celebrating passover with his disciples.
Read the story of the first passover
Give a brief overview of the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt, the plagues, and the sparing of Israelite children.
Livestock death (pestilence)
Death of the firstborn
One of the first institutions of the Israelites, predates the law.
The lamb provides salvation from death and destruction. As it did in the past, so it will. Christ’s followers get to share in the feast, but Christ does not: he is the lamb; the one who suffers for the salvation of others.
John 1:24-29 (John calls Jesus the lamb of God)
Jesus uses a fundamental tradition to teach, similar to how he uses parables.
Jesus asked us to share in the supper in remembrance of him. We remember his sacrifice when we perform it; but we also remember that we will be with him one day.
Luke 14 says “I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” and “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
Matthew 14:29 is more specific: “I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
John 14:1-3 (go to prepare a place); Revelation 19:6-9 (marriage supper of the lamb)
Marriage is often used as an example of the relationship that Christ has with the Church. (Jesus describes it this way in parables in Matthew 22 and 25) We are betrothed, promised, or engaged to be the bride of Christ; he has gone to make a home for us, and will come to call for us one day.
Acts 2:43-47 (maybe communion for the early church?)
1 Corinthians 11:23-34 If nothing else, we should take away from this passage that we should prepare ourselves for the Lord’s supper, remember it as a sacred act, and remember that it is about believers coming together in unity with Christ. Always be mindful of each other and each other’s needs.
Communion for our group
I want to have the elements (bread and something made from grapes) available in our home whenever we host a gathering of believers. This way, we won’t be contrained if we feel led to share communion together.
I think (not necessarily correctly) that we should set aside a time each week, separate from the lesson, and definitely separate from the meal, for anyone to share communion who would wish to that day. This makes it available to any and all, while also making it easier for each to judge for himself whether he should partake. (See 1 Corinthians 11)
Servanthood as it deals with the passover
Amir asked us to pray for guidance on how to serve. Amazingly, this is also part of the passover meal that Christ shares with his disciples.
Talk a little about synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) vs John’s gospel.
John doesn’t mention the Lord’s supper, but he places a big focus on servanthood.
Service is the very definition of a Christian life.