Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do This


No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
            Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
(1 Corinthians 10:13-17 ESV)

One of the greatest mistakes in the history of worship was when the church sequestered the elements of Communion behind great iron fences for fear some fraction of the host might become defiled or fall on the ground and be trampled, while at the same time the church sequestered the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted from any real interaction with the Source of Life, with Christ himself. 

The church fenced off not only the Host to keep it safe; it kept the people separated from the Host as well.  At the very least, the bread and wine might saved some from starvation.  You see, the temptation Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 10:13 isn’t that some of us might have an affair or slander someone or lie or cheat or murder.  His big worry is that some of us might replace knowing the living Christ with interacting with an inanimate object. This is idolatry of the very worst kind.

What does it mean that we who are many are one body?  Paul sheds light on this in his discussion on the excesses of the church at Corinth.  “When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.”  (1 Corinthians 11:20-22 ESV)

Tonight many of us will go to church and participate in a re-enactment of the Last Supper. At church we will eat a cube of bread and half an ounce of grape juice and barely, if at all, give any thought to how that may connect us in some mysterious way to the other people lining up at the rail with us.  Since we’re going out anyway, some of us may choose to stop and have dinner out before or after, because it is easier than cooking at home. 

The cost of dinner out for 2 these days (without drinks) averages $40.  You can do it for $15 if you want to go to McDonald’s.   I just checked, and a 64 oz. bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice and 2 loaves of Hannaford’s Giant White Bread (22 oz. size) will set you back $6.09 here in New Hampshire.  Of course, you could stop on the way to church and pick up 12 loaves of bread and 6 bottles of grape juice, drop them off at your local soup kitchen, and forego the dinner out.  Maybe then you’d have a little different experience when the pastor hands you the Elements tonight and says, “This is my body, broken for you.   Do this in remembrance of me.”

Jon


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