In the combined service we celebrated communion by intinction.** While normal for contemporary folks, this was strange for the traditional crowd, who normally pass the plates of juice and cracker. Of course Greg explained the process, still many people were confused as they approached. Many took the bread and ate, only to realize they needed the bread to dip (of course I had extra ready). Still, one person approached me and reached for the cup, a typical act in some churches (and she mentioned growing up Catholic). But I told her to instead use the bread. I held out the cup. She reached out the bread, and then she dropped the bread into my cup. She quickly realized her mistake, but left in the cup was a floating piece of bread…
** Intinction is a form of communion with two stages. First you come to someone holding broken bread and you take a torn piece – while the bread holder says, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you.”. Taking the bread, you then come to the next person who holds the cup. You dip your bread into the cup – while the cup holder say, “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” You then eat bread and juice as one.
It is difficult to learn new ways. Especially when we have been doing the same things over and again. Of course, with communion, it would not take long for everyone to figure out exactly how intinction works. But some things in life keep baffling us.
Like Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
As the church – an institution created by Christ – we have struggled with this reality. Often, as though the New Testament never occurred, we fall right back into the ways of the law. We work and sacrifice, with the hope that we will be good enough. It is as though we are back to stacking the scales, with the hope that it will tip in the directions of heaven. Of course when our lives do not measure up, we heap criticism onto ourselves (we also heap condemnation and judgment on others, but that is not where I am headed).
I spoke many of these same words last week, but afterward when I asked the students what they had heard – especially how God saw them as Christian, many lamented their failings. Do not get me wrong, God wants us to be perfect – BUT when we choose Christ we ARE!
This is the good news – the definition of the Gospel. Why is it so liberating? Because we are no longer in a race for perfection. A race we never will win, as Paul laments in Romans 7. Then he writes, “But thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ” (7:25).
In the church, in Christ, there is only one thing. Will you follow Him? There is not a list of rules, but a demand for relationship. This is not a one time decision, but everyday, will you follow? And as we walk with Jesus, his sacrifice – the perfect sacrifice – covers us again and again. So that we are not longer weighed down by sin. Because His body was broken, his blood shed, and now we find ourselves afloat in this grace from Christ.