Sunday, October 07, 2007
Images and symbols can be easily misinterpreted. And the misunderstanding can result in confusion and even harm if the true meaning behind the symbol is not grasped.
For Lindsay, it was the engraving of Little Boy Blue on Jonah's headstone.
For me, it was communion.
As a wee Catholic lass, I was taught that the wafer and the wine became the actual flesh and blood of Christ once the priest had blessed it. Only the priest could handle the sacred Host, and we'd kneel at the altar to receive the costly gift. Once I overheard some altar boys whispering about a kid they knew who held the wafer carefully in his mouth until he got home. He stuck out his tongue in the mirror to see his prize and was quite astonished to see blood oozing out from his teeth marks in the wafer. After hearing that story, I felt bad about chewing on Jesus and would try to swallow the wafer as quickly as possible. I was always quite relieved when that part of the Mass was over.
Once I became an evangelical Christ-follower, the practice of communion changed a bit. I attended a church that served "The Lord's Supper" every week. The spongy wafer and real wine were replaced by stale crackers and grape juice that we helped ourselves to from a passing tray. We were instructed--usually during a somber communion meditation--to remember Christ's sacrifice as we "partook of the elements." But only if we'd examined our hearts (with heads bowed and eyes closed), repented of our sins, and had judged ourselves worthy to participate in this ritual. The gratitude I felt--if I decided my heart was clean enough to take communion that week--was always slightly tinged with guilt.
I was always a bit relieved when the house lights came back up and all the empty little communion cups were nestled safely in their holders . . .
Just recently, however, I've approached communion with a new attitude. What used to feel like a memorial service for Jesus--focusing only upon His suffering and my sin--now draws me in like a joyous celebration as I meditate on His sacrifice of love and look forward to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
Jesus gave His life to redeem His Bride!
"Rehearsal Dinner" is the term that comes to mind these days as I munch my cracker and slurp my juice--with eyes wide open, by the way. I've been to a few of those lately. Rehearsal dinners are times of remembering (so, how did you two meet, anyway?), but more than that--they are times of anticipating the glorious union to come!
Surely that's what Jesus, the Bridegroom, had in mind during His last supper on this planet: "Take, eat, for this is My Body. Drink, all of you, for this is My blood of the new covenant shed for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink the fruit of the vine from now on until I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom". (Matthew 26:26-29)
Wow, that is going to be some wedding party--drinking new wine with Jesus in the Father's house! I can't help but smile these days as the communion tray comes around . . .