Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Baking of Communion Bread

Our church has a tradition that each month someone takes a turn baking the unleavened bread for our Lord’s Supper that day.  Today it is my turn.  I will admit I thought it was pretty cool, but that is about all the thought I gave it.  I love communion services, and get the significance, but I just saw this as doing what I had signed up to do, and doing my part.  Had to make a run to the store the night before and set my alarm to get up a little extra early to do it, but that was ok…not a big deal.  Not a big deal…or so I thought last night.

This morning I awoke and it was a whole different story.  I found myself going back through recipes making sure to pick the one I thought would turn out the best, the one that wouldn’t taste like cardboard, the one I might not burn, the one that wouldn’t fall apart.  Even as I started mixing the ingredients, it began dawning on me that this was no mundane task. 

I do not want to “over spiritualize” this, nor do I pretend to know all the significance, but we can BE religious and doctrinal, or we can EXPERIENCE the spirit of the religion.  I have this morning truly experienced the doctrine and ordinance of the Lord’s Supper and had communion with my Savior standing in my kitchen all alone at 6am this morning. 

My mind went to the thousands of years that this supper of unleavened bread has been going on, and the millions of hands that have, now like mine, prepared it.  OK, so they did not have a Walmart or a Kitchenaid, which serves to remind me that this for them could have gone two ways.  It could have  been a mundane task, much more so that for me, or it could have been a joy to prepare a “meal” that served to honor what the Lord had delivered them from, and to this day, to celebrate His deliverance.  The kneading of the bread, the rolling it out, firing up the ovens, hoping it turned out well for their celebrations. 

Then my recipe called for “scoring” the loaf before you bake it, so it is easier to cut into small pieces when completed.  Scoring.  As I was doing it, God brought to mind all the times throughout all the years backs were turned on God, on His perfect love for His people, ignored, disobeyed, His heart broken, His people worshiping gods of their own making, scoring the heart of the Father.   Yet He was still willing to continue with His plan to redeem His people.  With everything He ever did pointing to this moment, this Last Supper in the upper room, where Jesus would visually show and explain His body broken for His people.  Tears flowed.  Still they didn’t get it.  Still we don’t get it.  It’s mundane.  We have heard it before. 

But as the bread came out of the oven, just as Jesus came out of the tomb, the aroma was sweet and inviting, and wholesome, and overtook everyone in the house.  This time, as I cut the loaf into smaller pieces, I wept.  Tears of joy, of disbelief, of love, and of embarrassment that I was in the kitchen bawling over a flat piece of bread.  But in a whole new way, and a brand new perspective, it was so real to me.  His love.  His provision.  His pain that I had a hand in causing.  His resurrection and eternal standing as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Our Salvation…our Bread of Life.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Milk, Meat and Beef Jerky

As I have had care of my aging Mother after a recent fall, she has taught me a lot. With healing from two broken arms, balance issues, and other medical issues she has a lot to deal with.  I am not sharing this out of any other heart than the one the Lord clearly spoke to me today.  I am not putting her down, or talking badly about her.  I am pointing out human tendencies which I see in her, and God sees in me.

There is a desire to be independent that permeates all she does.  There is also a desire to be pampered and cared for and have her needs met by others, thus her nickname Petunia.  Seems like sometimes the two get reversed.  She is so anxious and desirous to prove her independence she tries to undertake activities she has no business doing alone.  Taking chances she should not take.  Refusing help she should not refuse.  Then there are times that on seemingly easier tasks she wants it done for her.  Things she should be able to do for herself.  Things that even in her state of healing should be simple and mundane.   

Today, as those characteristics crossed, and began to make me cross, God revealed my need to criss-cross my focus.  One question put me in line…”How unlike you is that really?”

Spiritually, how often do we try to go it alone in areas He never intended us to go?  Carry loads and burdens we were never intended to carry?  Take on situations that just are not safe for us on our own?  And yet in simple and seemingly mundane activities of our Christian walk and life we want to have God swoop down and take care of it for us.  Quiet time? No need, Gods got us.  Bible study each day? What for?  He’ll take care of us.  We are the milk drinkers who should be on meat who on occasion decide we are able enough and independent enough to bite off a big ole piece of beef jerky.

1 Corinthians 3:2-3a states, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.  Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still living fleshly.”

Hebrews 5:12-14 goes further to reveal to us that “though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” 

So, as I daily ask my Mother to do what she can, and rely on me for what she can’t or shouldn’t, I do so with the fresh awareness that my Lord asks the same of me.