Sunday, September 10, 2006

Come to this table, not because you must, but because you may.

When I'm invited to take communion, I have a choice to make.

The thing is, I often think little of it. I used to say no without bothering to think about it - I didn't see it as important. I didn't want to stand up infront of my friends, or heaven forbid, push past them on the way to the aisle! I presumed I'd take it someday, but I had little idea why. It wasn't relevant to me. I wasn't bothered or concerned.

Nowadays, I'm more guilty of saying yes without realizing quite what I'm saying yes to. I go through the motions, but the weight and importance of what I'm receiving doesn't occur to me. I swallow the bread and drink the wine, and have no idea of the significance of what I've done. I walk back to my seat and I'm the same person who stood up a few minutes before.

Communion is a bigger choice than that. Choosing to say yes to the invitation is saying yes to going deeper with God. It's saying yes, I need you Jesus. It's saying thanks for the wonder of being able to be close to the Father. It's going back into the world, knowing that you're called.

Communion is a huge deal.

Come, not to testify that you are righteous, but that your sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ and long to be his true disciples.
Come, not because you are strong but because you are weak; not because you have any claim on heaven's rewards, but because in your weakness and sin you stand in constant need of heaven's mercy and help.

I need God desperately. I especially need forgiveness.

I can't get rid of the guilt of sin myself; I need Jesus to wash me clean. I can't be free of my shackles unless my Master cuts me free. I can't resist temptation unless the Spirit strengthens me. I certainly can't love my neighbour without Christ's example. There's very little, if anything, that I can do in my own strength. I desperately need God.

There's a beatiful hymn written by Annie Hawks that goes:

"I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee."

And its true. I need God every day, every hour, every minute. I can't live the life I was created to live on my own, not even close. Without God, I crumble and fall. I am weak, I am a sinner. I need grace, I need mercy, I need forgiveness. I need my Savior. I need him now; not sometime in the distant future, but now. There's an urgency in the need.

I need God whether life is bearable or whether I'm walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Even if life is easy on the outside, I still need Christ. I'm far from perfect - the more I know, the more I realize that I know very little indeed. God hasn't finished work in me yet. I'm still very much under construction.

I was on the edge of my seat today from the moment I saw the communion table. I knew I needed forgiveness, I knew I needed God's healing power in my life. I itched with impatience to chew the bread and accept the sacrifice Jesus made so that I could be forgiven. I needed communion. When I was given my bread, I chewed it knowing that I needed it. I needed Christ. I needed forgiveness and I needed God to come through for me.

I need thee every hour, my Lord.

Here you will find others just like you and together we shall meet our God in Jesus Christ as he gives himself to us in mercy, forgiveness, call, challenge and the promise of his presence with us always. Come.

As we drink wine, we are reminded that we can now be close to God - the sin that separated us from God has been ripped away. The veil that stopped us being close to the Creator of the heavens and the earth has been lifted. We can approach the eternal throne, feeling no shame!

That image astounds me. When I imagine God's throne room, it's always very grand. The throne is always huge, and I can't quite look at it straight, for God is so mighty, pure and beautiful. I try and imagine approaching it, and I can't - I don't deserve to look, to go near it.

But God has removed all the barriers that stop that - my guilt, my fear and my pride. He adopts me as a daughter into his royal family and clothes me in robes of righteousness divine. I can approach the throne, knowing that God wants me there! I am not intruding on holy ground. He has been seeking me, fighting for me since before the earth began. God even reduced himself to human flesh - the immortal mystery, in a baby! - just to find me. I am wanted, desperately. I can approach the eternal throne not fearing condemnation because God wants me. God wants me! God thinks that without me, his world wouldn't be the same. I am essential in his plan for creation.

It astounds me that God chooses to want, to seek, to need people like me. God didn't create me because he needed company, like you might purchase a puppy as a companion. God had all of his relational needs met in the trinity; he wasn't lonely! God created me because he imagined me, and he fell in love with me. He designed every part of my body in detail and didn't make mistakes. He planned out my days before I was born, weaving me into the tapestry of his story. No one else could fill my role in God's story. I was designed for the role I needed to play; I wasn't a mistake.

I need God to come through for me though, if I want to live this life. I need him desperately, every moment, every hour. God is good, and I need him.

And that's what I think about when I take communion.

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