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April 2nd, 2015
It’s an abbreviated Backstory this week as we race to make final preparations for this Holy Week’s observances. But what we lack in length we make up for in pithiness.
We’ve been focusing on identity during Lent–Jesus’ and ours. We’ve taken in several of Jesus’ “I Am” statements from the gospel according to John in order to refresh our memory of the fullness of who He is. But, with a little nudge from C.S. Lewis, we’ve asked how the truth about Jesus’ identity has relevance for the sense of our own identity. For as Lewis put it, “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.” So each week we’ve wondered aloud how His identity ought to shape ours.
We’re not alone in that consideration. Here’s a talk given just last Thursday on the subject of identity and how the gospel has untold relevance–and liberation–for understanding our identity. Winsome and wise. Commendable and candid. The Q&A at the end is as valuable as the initial lecture.
We’ll gather for our “liturgy of last words” tomorrow (Friday) at 6:30pm at FBC. You’ll have a chance to hear Jesus’ last words from the Cross. You’ll also have the opportunity to be prayed over.
The liturgy will involve many from within our congregation, and yet be somewhat of a departure from the kinds of services we’ve held in the past.
One thing’s for sure though.
This will not happen.
(Scroll to 1:20 for when things….heat up.)
What does it mean to eat and drink worthily of the Table?
Resurrection Sunday falls on the first Sunday of the month this year. So we’ll follow our tradition of coming to the Table to partake of the very means of grace explained and empowered by the Resurrection itself.
But as we’ve asked before, if the Table entails a certain preparation for eating worthily of it (cf. 1 Corinthians 11), in what precisely does that preparation consist?
This article, written by one in the Anglican Tradition, tries to tackle the perennial question raised by those in that tradition about why baptism is required for those who would participate in the Supper–why the meal isn’t just for everyone, but for those who’ve come to terms with what it means and why it matters. The author also takes up the questions of how children can, and when children should, be prepared to receive the elements.
What struck me about the article was the way it found a metaphor for what the Table requires in the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14. There Jesus tells a story of a nuptial feast thrown by a kind for his son–a feast to which many were invited, yet all of whom ended up dismissing the offer. So the King sends an invitation to any and all in the streets, whether bad or good, that they may take delight in his repast. But Jesus’ parable closes with the discovery of one who came without the customary wedding garment–in other words without regard at all for what the event signified and the dignity it deserved.
As that feast entailed at least a modicum of recognition of what it represented among those who would share in its goodness, so coming to the Table occasions like consideration. That’s why it’s necessary for adults to devote time to reflection upon what this Table means. That’s also why children must be catechized in its meaning and significance before they’d be invited to partake. The following represents something similar but not identical to our tradition of preparing children for participation. (In time we’d like to create a Confirmation Class. For now we invite parents who sense their children’s understanding in who Jesus is and why they need Him beginning to blossom to invite the elders to have a simple “sit-down” with children and their parents to confirm that sense.) But it summarizes how both young and old must regard the Table as they prepare to sup from it.
There is a parallel between this parable and our participation in the sacrament of Holy Communion. The banquet is available to all, but something is required of us before we participate. Since confirmation is no longer a requirement, and there is no uniform system of providing First Communion classes for children, responsibility often falls on parents to teach their children at home and explain to them what Communion means. The level of maturity and comprehension will vary from one child to another and is not necessarily a function of any specific age. Priests must often rely on the judgment of parents on whether a given child is ready for Communion. We must all come like little children before the throne of God. Just how Christ is present with us as bread and wine are transformed into his body and blood is a holy mystery that none of us can fully understand, no matter what our ages.
Parishioners and pastors alike have the privilege of partaking of what is a mystery–a “visible Word” as Augustine put it. With that privilege comes a corresponding responsibility. One not burdensome or obscure–“His yoke is easy and His burden is light”–but right and meet. (Again, you can read the whole article here.)
The two requests we made of you recently on behalf of the children still stand. Consider this a friendly reminder for you to consider serving as part of our Nursery leadership committee, or providing meals to our families with newborns. Karla Pollock is your contact for the nursery. Liesl Raikes, the meals-on-wheels effort.
Community Quick Hits
- As we announced last Sunday, we’ll have a cross this Sunday waiting to be adorned with flowers (with a little help from chicken wire). We’d love for you all to bring a little something floral to bedeck the symbol of our hope with beauty. Time and weather permitting we may try to take a group photo around said cross. So bring a simple spray of something.
- Don’t forget our invitation for you to videotape yourself reciting Romans 8 from memory. Send us your finished work and your blooper reel. Let us know if you need equipment to record yourself, too.
- Our next Introduction to CtK Conversation will be May 16th.
When you pray, remember to pray for
- Lloyd and Breanna Elam as they welcomed Zerah Elizabeth into the world on Monday!
- our soon-to-be parents of newborns: the
Elams, Chambillas, Martinezes, and Garmons
- friends and family who might join us this Sunday
- our officer candidates now preparing themselves for their examinations in a couple weeks
Finally, another one from George