At One Moment – A Good Friday {Repost}

At

One

moMent

Dark Sky,

Thunder

Rolling,

Lightening

Flickering,

Criminals on either side, one bitter to the end, the other humbly repenting.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they have done, do and will do.”

“King of the Jews”

The sign jeered.

“Save yourself!”

Soldiers sneered.

Man far from God

God far from man.

“It is not Myself

I am here to save.

It is you thief,

You soldier.

You reader.”

God close to man

Man close to God

In a moment

At-one-ment.

 

Communion – A Matter of the Heart

THIS POST IS NOT MEANT TO BE ADVICE FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT.  IT IS ONLY EXPLORING THE SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS TO SOME MEDICAL INFORMATION.

A friend of mine had a tubal pregnancy years ago.  A few days ago, she was explaining the recovery process she went through, as she had lost a lot of blood.  One of the things she mentioned is that the doctor recommended for blood health was Concord grape juice.

Now we’ve all heard about the health benefits to a glass of red wine, but did you know that grape juice provides exactly the same health benefits?  But that’s not what this post is about.  I’ve been meditating on communion quite a bit.

The first thing I’ve thought about, is that the bread is most often compared to the Word of God, so when we are receiving the bread, we are receiving the God’s Word in food form. As I am fasting from bread for Lent (other than during communion) I’ve been thinking ALOT about bread…I previously posted about my thoughts on bread here The Bread of Life.

But back to the grape juice, after talking to my friend at church, I came home and was laying in bed when I sat straight up with a thought!  So, Jesus asked us to take communion with something that is good for our heart and for our blood.  I trudged back downstairs pulling my robe on as I almost tripped.  After doing some internet research, I found that not only is Concord grape juice good for your blood, but some nutritionists and doctors believe that combined with some other natural substances, it is the closest thing a patient can have to a blood transfusion! You can read about it here.  By now, I was very excited.  Not because I’m in need of a transfusion in the natural, but because I realized that because I was bought and purchased with His blood into the family of God, that I have had a spiritual blood transfusion of sorts.  It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.  When I take communion, I am receiving a spiritual blood transfusion.  It’s now His Life in me, not my own. His blood runs through my veins!  Wow!  God is so cool.

Not only that, but it is proven that Concord grape juice helps with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and general heart health.  Well, we’ve known for sometime that being in Communion with Him helps with our hearts!  It changes our heart from stone to flesh!

Like I said, whether this has been proven scientifically or not doesn’t matter to me, as it was  a journey towards epiphany for me regarding the elements involved in communion.  I love it when science confirms God.

The Bread of Life

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As I continue to fast bread during Lent, I am looking for the significance of bread in Scripture.  The middle eastern understanding of bread is quite different than that of the western mindset.  We have a white doughy substance which can be rolled up between two fingers into a perfect ball.  It gets stuck on the roof of your mouth and tastes something like pasty air.

The bread from the time of Jesus would have been quite a different substance.  First of all, the grain would have been much more whole, so there would be no ball rolling with this bread.  Middle Eastern views on the blessing of food, brings along with it a respect for it.  They would never engage in food fights, or play with their food.

As the son of a Syrian family I was brought up to think of bread as possessing a mystic sacred significance.  I never would step on a piece of bread fallen in the road, but would pick it up, press it to my lips for reverence, and place it in a wall or on some other place where it would not be trodden upon.  What always seemed to me to be one of the noblest traditions of my people was their reverence to the “aish” (bread; literally “the life-giver”).  While breaking bread together we would not rise to salute an arriving guest, whatever the social rank.  Whether spoken or not, our excuse for not rising and engaging in the cordial (Near East) salutation before the meal was ended, was our reverence for the food (hir-metal-‘aish).  We could, however, and always did, invite the newcomer most urgently to partake of the repast…The ‘aish was something more than mere matter.  Inasmuch as it sustained life, it was God’s own life made tangible for his child, man, to feed upon.  The Most High Himself fed our hunger.  Does not the psalmist say, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.”? (From The Syrian Christ by Abraham Rihbany, published 1916.)

Bread means literally “the life-giver”, so when Jesus proclaimed that He was the Bread of Life, He is saying that He is the life giver.  Even aside from the respect given to the bread used as one of the elements in the Eucharist, in some parts of the world, bread is respected as a life-giver and treated with dignity as something to be truly grateful for.

Give us this day, our daily bread.  Give us today life from heaven.  Just the right portion.  Not too much, or too little.  We are to be given the right amount of life so that we are able to accomplish His will today, reminding one of the Scripture that reads, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

The children of Israel were given bread.  They were given only what they needed for that day.  When they were greedy, the bread became wormy.  The word for that bread, or manna as it was called,  is correctly translated, “What is it?”  When Jesus came, He became the true bread from Heaven.  And we still argue amongst ourselves.  What is it?  Does the bread of Holy Communion become the actual body of Christ? Or is it only a symbol?

One thing is certain.  Long before the Last Supper, bread was a symbol.  A common subject of an object lesson to the people of its time, symbolizing life, fulfillment and provision.

Jesus has given us His life in exchange for our own poor excuse of a life.  He gave us beauty for ashes, and a hope for a good future because of His supreme sacrifice.  He nourishes our soul, just as bread nourishes our bodies.  He brings the necessary nutrients and health to us, but He also satisfies our spirits.  I don’t know any food substance that satisfies hunger quite like bread.  Believe me, in not eating bread for a month now, I can’t tell you how much I miss it.  It satisfies.  Jesus satisfies the soul in a way only He can.  When we hunger and thirst for Him He fills us with food that we may never hunger again.

One reason there was once so much respect for bread is because it was recognized as provision.  It was a major staple in a well stocked home.  If you had bread, life was good.  We have the Bread of Life, and therefore Life is very good.

Living A Flourless Lent

Since I have given up wheat flour for lent, I have had a hard time for convenience sake making my meals.  It seems as though bread and pasta sure do simplify meal planning.  No sandwiches, mac and cheese, spaghetti, or hot dogs for a quick lunch.

I did find a very yummy recipe for flourless chocolate cake.  Here’s the link…enjoy  🙂  Flourless Chocolate Cake

What Do You Think?

So…I’m an evangelical Christian celebrating Lent.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe I feel like we may have thrown out the baby with the bath water in Christian liturgy and symbolism.

I totally understand how we must be careful not let the traditions of men steal the truth of the Word.  However, in studying Christian history it is interesting to see how different seasons and observances came to be.  For instance, did you know that lent as an established discipline has been around since before The Council of Nicea?(325 AD)

One of the first ideas established about Lent, (and the only one I’ll be writing about today) is that it was a fast endured by early converts before they were to be baptized.  No easy believeism there.  I’m sure those converts were pretty serious about their new life in Christ after having prepared their hearts with some type of forty day fast.  The idea here was to remind the believer that they were to die to self and be raised up again with Christ.  Many times baptisms were done on or near Easter, so that the converts identified with the death, and burial of Christ in their fast and the resurrection of Christ through the celebration of Easter.

Some times I think we make it too easy to “get saved”.  “Just say a prayer”, we hear ourselves say. “It’s a free gift.”  This is true.  No amount of fasting or dunking or good works can earn salvation.  However, when we use symbolism, like baptism and the Lord’s Supper, we bring Christianity from belief to experience.  Particularly when we come to these observances with respect.  Should we stop doing these things because we are afraid that they won’t mean anything anymore?  Perhaps the even greater fear is that people will begin to put their trust in the symbolic acts instead of in Christ.

I know that Lent is not mentioned in the Bible, but fasting is.  And Lent was established by a very early church, a church that only a few generations previously walked with the Lord.

What are your ideas on rituals and church?

Ash Wednesday: What is it?

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent season (more to come on Lent soon).  It is a day to remind us of our need of a Savior for the remission of our sins.  The ashes signify two things.  One, a feeling of sorrow, as when various Biblical characters adorned themselves with sackcloth and ashes.  The sorrow on this day would be our fallen state and how it has separated us from God.  The other is to remind us of our mortality.  That we came from ashes and to ashes (or dust) we will return.

The entire idea of Ash Wednesday is to set apart a day in which the opportunity for true repentance can come to the believer.  I John 1:9 is one of the common finishing scriptures for an Ash Wednesday service.  “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”

Contrary to popular belief, Ash Wednesday isn’t only celebrated by Catholics and Anglicans.  Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians also observe Ash Wednesday.  Many Christians may feel that there is unnecessary emphasis on the sinful nature of the believer during this observance.  That may be so, but also consider the fact that the American church very rarely meditates on true repentance and our need for a Savior based on our sinful nature.

Here is a prayer commonly spoken at an Anglican service from the Book of Common Prayer for an Ash Wednesday service.  Notice the contrite and broken language, and the acknowledgment of how empty and religious things can become once they become religion with no understanding.  This is from the 1689 version of the Book of Common Prayer.

BRETHREN, this time of Lent upon which we are now entered was, by the Ancient Church, observed very religiously, and set apart; all men examining themselves for true fasting, and for the due preparation of all persons for the worthy receiving the Communion at Easter, and was of good use till superstition corrupted it, when all the fasting of this season came to be placed in a distinction of meats, upon which an undue value was set; and instead of men’s humbling themselves before God, and mourning for their sins and turning to God with all their hearts, and bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance, Auricular Confession, together with Outward Penances, were the things mainly insisted on. But in order to the rectifying these abuses, and returning to the ancient practice, you must know that fasting is of no value, but as it is joined with prayer, and the afflicting of our souls before God. Nor does it consist in the distinction of meats, but in such a restraint of bodily appetites as disposes the mind more for prayer. Nor are fasting, prayer, or our sorrowing for sin, of any value in the sight of God, but as they tend to work in us true repentance; which is a real change both of our heart and life by which we become assured of God’s love and favour to us; since by this only we can certainly know that God has forgiven our sins, if we ourselves do truly forsake them. But in order to your understanding aright the necessity of fasting and prayer, I shall set before you good and evil, life and death, blessing and cursing, in the words of God himself, who cannot lie, and in whom there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning. I shall read to you both some of the blessings of the Gospel, as also some of the heavy denunciations of God’s wrath, that are set down in the New Testament: that in these you may see both the blessedness to which our Saviour calls us, as also the dreadful judgments of God against impenitent sinners; and that by these you may be warned to flee from the wrath which is to come, and to lay hold on eternal life.

 

Hope this helps…