Sunday, October 30, 2016
Waiting for God
October 30, 2016 "It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion? I had said in my alarm, "I am cut off from your sight." But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you." --From Lamentations 3:26, Psalm 77:9, 31:22, and Proverbs 20:22 I didn't realize how much I missed it till today. Last Sunday, I was in prison with a Keryx team, ministering to 42 men, worshipping with them, but not giving or receiving communion due to the ecumenical nature of the ministry. From the first time I learned that communion wouldn't be a part of the weekend because so many different denominations are represented in both the ministry team and the inmates, it struck me as odd. Jesus instituted the communion meal as the signal means by which he would be made known to us, and by which we proclaim to the world that we are one in Christ. In John's gospel, that first Eucharist was followed by Jesus' prayer that we would be one, as he and his Father are one, "that the world might believe." Yet this was the one thing we wouldn't do together to demonstrate our unity in Christ. Before last Sunday, it had been a long time since I've not received communion on a Sunday morning, and having missed out last week, to receive it today was a special treat. According to John's gospel, prior to receiving communion that first time, Jesus washed his disciples' feet. At first, Peter protested, till Jesus said it was necessary; then he wanted Jesus to wash his head and hands, too. Jesus, alluding to the washing of baptism, told Peter he didn't need a complete bath, just a footwashing. In other words, we are washed from our sins when we profess our faith in Christ, signified by baptism, and don't need a second bath. Incidentally, this is why when someone who was baptized as an infant professes faith as an adult, Methodists do not baptize again. We believe that baptism isn't as much the sign of our faith in Christ as it is God's claim upon us. God is the primary actor in baptism. So, with Peter, we don't need a full bath, but walking in this dusty, sin-filled world, our feet get dirty, and we need the regular touch of Christ for our cleansing. That's what communion is; a regular coming to Christ, examining our hearts, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:28-30. The liturgical prayer for communion reads, "We have done things we ought not to have done, and have left undone things we ought to have done." Every week when I stand in line to receive, I am confessing my sins, clearing out the clutter which inevitably comes with daily living. Of course, I can do it apart from communion, but to hear the words of absolution and receive again the Body and Blood of Christ cements in my heart the reality of God's endless (thankfully) grace. I needed it today; as the Scripture says, I waited for the LORD, and this morning I received the sign of his grace and mercy once more, and am grateful.