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Posts Tagged ‘#communion’

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Early Sunday morning I read the quote (above) by Saint John Chrysostrom. Hours later, as I lifted the communion cup to my lips, his words remerged in my mind.

do I see Christ in the beggar at the door? in the homeless in the park? in the addict standing in front of me?

Typically I would say yes.

I am one who has given money, smiles and run to the store for a bag of food for the beggar, the homeless, the addict. I have included and encouraged our kids to do the same. I have felt a peace that passes all human understanding as one of our daughters has worked with women in addiction and is now on a committee in her community regarding the opiod epidemic.

I am not saying all of this to pat myself on the back, for what I am about to share with you I do so with head bowed low, humbled by my inactions, paralysis of body, mind and … soul.

It was just over a year ago that I was on the Lower East Side of Vancouver. An area rich in the history of Vancouver, BC, and poor in almost every other way. It is a community of contrasts with tourist shops galore, trendy and expensive shops, and tasty eateries alongside the homeless, the beggars, prostitutes, and addicts shooting up right before your eyes on the sidewalks.

As I walked on the sidewalks that day I chatted with a homeless man about his gorgeous, well brushed dog, a toothless woman with a generous smile and a man who I made eye contact with, who said, “God bless you” to me. For balance I also said “sorry, I just gave away my last coin” to a man who was begging, who told me to “F–K off.”

Gotta love when people are real.

It has always been easy for me to see people … all people … as children of the King of Kings.

Then, late in the hot afternoon, walking down the crowded sidewalk, I came face to face with her. She was a bit shorter than my five foot, three inch height, with wild and unkempt hair. She was wearing a romper with spaghetti strap strings draping it over her skeletal frame.

As my eyes met hers …

I repelled.

It was as if something deep inside of me recoiled. It wasn’t fear, for I think that if I had blown a whiff of air towards her she might have collapsed. It wasn’t disgust, or pity, or even sadness.

When I looked into her lifeless eyes I saw a lack of life looking back at me, it was as though I was looking into the eyes of death, but what caused me to repel was my own reaction to our ever so brief meeting … for I did nothing, I felt nothing for her.

I did not see her soul … and I recognized no Christ within her. Something in that moment kept me from seeing her a who she is … a child of God, and I still ache for the missed opportunity to whisper hope in words, or a smile, or …

After we continued to walk in opposite directions, I looked back, wondering if I should seek her out, offer to buy her a sandwich, a bottle of water … inspired by my guilt for feeling no life connection with her. But she was gone, as if she vaporized into thin air.

Over a year later, and I am still agonizing over that brief interaction (lack of interaction) with the woman. I have found myself wondering if God placed her in my path, for some greater purpose, to teach me something.

That interaction has taught me something about myself … that my heart is not yet soft enough, that I do not love everyone, that I am not full of compassion … that I do not, naturally, see everyone as a child of God.

But, what I have also learned is that one poor interaction has caused me to lift that woman up to God, begging that she might find peace from her addiction. I have also learned that I now see her as that chalice cup, contained within her the blood of Christ which gives eternal life.

And, because of her, my communion will never be the same again.

“ … in your journey you will meet broken people, hateful people and people who have lost the sight for their glory. And the beauty of it all is this: I will tell you to love them, to love them deeply and show them how some of us still care. Never give up on them, for to give up on them is to destroy a reflection of ourselves.”
Robert M. Drake, Black Butterfly

Those who give to the poor
will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them
receive many curses.”
Proverbs 28:27

 

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beaut7

CS Lewis has said, “We do not want merely to see beauty… we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

beaut3

Though I have the benefit of living in a place of great visual beauty, it is when I am on vacation, travelling, that I have opportunity to not only see the beauty around me, but also to breath it into my lungs, into my very soul … so that what I see pierces into who I am, providing an experience of oneness, like communion.

beaut2 These experiences are deeply spiritual, deeply personal and immensely rejuvenating, reminding me who I am, what I am part of and to whom I belong.

beaut6

As hubby and I traverse this week, I participated in such a holy service, in the cathedrals made of rock, wood, sand and water. I partook of the elements offered to me, ““in remembrance of him.” (1 Corinthians 11:24a, 25a).

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you … For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:23a, 26)

I find, in these wide-opened, sacred spaces, that I feel the words of hymns or spiritual songs whose words were inspired by similar services of communion. It is such sweet sacrament.

In this case, it was the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth, written by Folliott S. Pierpoint, sometime before 1864

For the beauty of the earth,
   For the beauty of the skies,
For the Love which from our birth
   Over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
beaut1
For the beauty of each hour
   Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
   Sun and moon and stars of light:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For the joy of ear and eye,
   For the heart and brain’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
   Linking sense to sound and sight:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For the joy of human love,
   Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above;
   For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For each perfect Gift of Thine
   To our race so freely given,
Graces human and Divine,
   Flowers of earth, and buds of Heaven:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For Thy Bride that evermore
   Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
   This Pure Sacrifice of Love:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For Thy Martyrs’ crown of light,
   For Thy Prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold Confessors’ might,
   For the lips of Infancy:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For Thy Virgins’ robes of snow,
   For Thy Maiden Mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
   Jesu, Victim undefiled,
Offer we at Thine own Shrine
Thyself, sweet Sacrament Divine.

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comm

As with appreciating nature, feeling in love with ones spouse and desiring a salad over a burger and fries, sometimes we take communion because it is good for us. Sometimes, though it is a practice where we are fully aware of all of the words spoken, the symbolisms, and the great, great sacrifice.

I have gone through the habit and ritual of communion in a robotic fashion, with less connection of my heart to the practise. This past Sunday was not that sort of ritual.

This past Sunday I felt an appreciation, an awareness of the longevity and vast numbers of believers in Christ who have participated in this practise since that Passover night in an upper room some two thousand years ago.

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you:”

And it has been passed on, and on, and on. Though variations in presentation, in elements (bread, rice crackers, wine, Welch’s grape juice, etc.), in delivery, etc. Yet it is still basically as Jesus himself directed.

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

“My body” … his human flesh, willingly broken, as a debt payment for the sin of all humanity … past, present, future. His body, as sacrifice, was not broken quickly, painlessly but over many hours and torturously. He invites us, to do this as a remembrance of him, of his gift.

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

“My blood” … Jesus was like the sacrificial lambs that had been slaughtered as atonement (payment) for sins. But the shedding of his blood was once, for all. Like the first Passover, when it was blood on the doorposts that saved the lives of the Israelites, the Passover of the final supper saved us all … for “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

This act of choosing (for he does not force himself on us) to participate in communion is the ongoing public statement of us that we follow the Christ, and that we receive his sacrifice of flesh and blood, as a personal gift from him.

Sometimes we remember what we are receiving with our whole heart, as when we first received.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

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