Tag Archive: communion


Drinks On The House

The host shouts “Drinks on the house” and the guests cheer. The party moves and sways as joy and laughter swell. Mysteriously the joy of the wine never spills over into inebriation or disorder. This gathering seems very different than others. Through the windows, doors and every seam of the house the sounds and smells of revelry can’t be contained. They flow freely into the surrounding area drawing any who pass by to come closer. The host even sends a few out into the dark streets because there is more wine and plenty of room. Somehow the warmth of the wine and the sounds of the party were so thick and real that the invitation carriers are kept warm even out in the cold night air. While they are out she passes by, drawn to the smells and sounds of perfect joy, but approaching the door she can’t believe the door is open. She clearly thinks to herself, “this can’t be for me” despite seeing the sign by the door saying
“No Shirt, No Shoes – No Problem”. Sign - NoProblemOver the roar of joy, she hears the host resound, “Drinks on the house!” A few from the party recognize her from the night as she peaks through the door, and without hesitation she is brought in to taste the wine and enjoy community. Then a few members of the party forget that they didn’t pay for their drinks bring a small disruption to the flow of joy. They were there first at the party and resented this strange woman coming in to share in the festivities. Then as more strangers from unexpected places came through the door, all who were there, even those singing out of tune, couldn’t help but see the host break some bread and hold up a cup saying, “Drinks on the house!”

baby_frog_2_by_jay_k_pics-d3nwm43A typical second grade boy cannot be expected to understand when a parent says “Just a few minutes.” He was in the garage dressed in his nice jeans with his button up shirt tucked in, and hair all combed ready to go to the church dinner on a Wednesday night. Mom sticks her head through the door and says, “We will be leaving in just a few minutes.” The door shuts as Mom goes back in to finish getting ready. The 2nd grader thinks that “Just a few minutes” gives him permission because it is enough time for a small adventure despite knowing that she most likely intended for him to stay there to be ready. Behind the houses across the street there is a canal which has been the source of many previous adventures. Despite knowing better he found himself leaving the garage. The canal slopes down on each side dropping around 10 feet below street level and always have at the minimum of about a foot of water flowing slowly even on the driest days.  On this particular day walking along the edge of the canal near a drain pipe emptying a trickle of water into the canal provides an amazing discovery. Hundred upon hundreds of baby frogs scatter with every step. This of course requires further investigation. So closer to the edge of the water the 2nd grader discovers hundreds of these creatures are transitioning from tadpole to frog. Many are still in the water with both legs and a tail. He has just a few minutes so off go the shoes and socks and he rolls up his jeans and the slimy clay-like earth squish between his toes as he enters into the water to catch these amazing creatures. The adventure takes him deeper when above the rim of the canal he hears a familiar voice drift down to the muddy water which awakens him from his fascination. He looks down to realize how deep he is. He realizes how there is sediment, clay, and mud all over him and his clothes. Awareness of his situation and all of his choices fill him with some remorse as he quickly grabs his socks and shoes and rises over the top of the canal dripping with him the stale smell of the neighborhood’s drainage system. He begins to move in the direction of his Mom’s voice.

Mom was filled with great emotions as her beloved son who had disappeared from the garage had now returned. The boy begins to tear up and apologize, but Mom interrupts saying, “shhh, baby…I love you. Take my hand. Let’s go get you cleaned up.” Mom graciously took her sons dirty hand and gently ushers him into the garage and shuts the outer door. She instructs her child to strip down out of those once nice church clothes. As the shirt comes off little frogs begin appearing jumping out of every pocket, nook, cranny, and crevice and scattering all over the garage for safety from the dirty little boy. Some of the little frogs didn’t survive. His wet and muddy jeans end up bunched around his ankles. No matter how hard he struggles, twists, and pulls the jeans won’t come off. He is filled with a mix of guilt and gratitude as Mom reaches down and helps him out of those smelly wet jeans as the last few frogs are released to safety as she empties the pockets. Mom brings her son inside straight to the shower. The water starts off cold and shocking, but warms up as the soap and water begin doing their wonderful transforming work. As if Mom has some magical powers, when he get’s out of the shower he sees that a new set of clean church clothes mysteriously appeared on the counter-top next to the sink. Moments later that 2nd grade boy is clean and dressed in these fresh garments. He is hungry and looking forward to eating dinner with his Mom. His Mom is smiling as he gets in the car. They get to the Wednesday night church dinner right on time instead of arriving very early as planned because it all took just a few minutes.

  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?
  • I wonder where you see God in this story?

Crumbs and Questions

 

hands-of-a-begging-woman-streets-kolkata-india
This image is from an amazing collection of photographs by Maier and Maier Photography.
http://www.maierandmaierphotography.com/hands/

 

Fives loaves of bread to feed thousands and everyone got more than a crumb to eat. There were baskets and baskets of broken pieces left over. I wonder how many could be fed with these broken leftovers if they too were taken, blessed, broken and given? After serving these thousands with the abundance of the kingdom I wrestle with why Jesus would say to this outsider that it isn’t fair to take the children’s food and give it to the dogs. How can it not be fair when obviously there is so much bread to go around? Five loaves, five thousand people, how can there not be a crumb for the outsider?
This woman, this outsider, argues with Jesus saying that dogs get crumbs.
Then she is commended for her faith as Jesus sets her daughter free from the oppressive powers that was destroying her. So what does faith look like in this story?
  • A woman crying for help for her daughter.
  • An outsider seeking the abundance of the kingdom.
  • An outsider desperate for help.
  • An outsider pressing her way into the covenant of God.
  • An outsider who cries out for mercy.
  • An outsider willing to argue for a place in the kingdom on behalf of another.
I find it interesting that right after her story Jesus is again feeding thousands with only a small handful of loaves.  Baskets and Baskets of leftovers. Baskets and baskets of mercy.
As we read the Gospel story this is not the place or the people we would expect to find a exemplar of faith.  The question that haunts me today is: Who are there faithful ones today? Are they sitting in the pew or somewhere else?
God, help me not be the barrier to those on the outside crying for mercy for their sons and daughters. Help me not be the boundary to those seeking welcome into your church and the kingdom. Help me have the faith of this Canaanite woman willing to even argue for a place at your table for others who experience exclusion. Amen.
 Matthew 15:25-28
25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Grace – Again and Again

GUE-bulletinNow I don’t want to minimize the prophet Elijah’s situation. He really did have a death threat. Jezebel promised that he had less than 24 hours to live. This threat was backed up by Jezebel already having killed off many of God’s prophets. It was after this threat that we see Elijah afraid and depressed and he is sitting under a tree wishing he were in the grave with his ancestors because he has had enough. His fear and this taxing depression made him feel ready to quit. Just like Elijah I think when we are in those dark places we tend to not see things as they really are.

Elijah, ready to give up, lost sight of all that God had done before. He forgot about the ravens, the oil, the flour, the widow’s son, and the fire that consumed the altar. Also he was speaking as if he were alone and the world was against him. He says to God how all of God’s people had forsaken their covenant relationship with God. This was only partly true. The people had turned along with king Ahab, but Elijah was there as he watched God’s people return to God on Mt. Carmel. In his depression he was failing to see the fullness of the story. Elijah claims to be alone – the last of GOd’s prophets. Jezebel had been killing off the prophets, but in his place of fear memory gets distorted. He leaves out key details of how God had delivered 100 other prophets . He felt like he was alone and the last one, but he wasn’t.  Just like Elijah when we are in our dark places we have trouble seeing what is real and true.

 

God comes and wakes Elijah up from a sleep that he did not want to ever wake up from, and God gently tells Elijah to “Get up and eat.” He wakes to a meal of hot bread and water/God’s presence and grace. Still bound to his fear and depression Elijah lays back down, but God offers second meal of grace and strength for the journey. God comes to him in this dark valley offering the grace of a meal and his presence again and again. God knows he needs this continuing grace to see the fullness of who God is, to see the reality of who he is, and to see his situation as it really is in the context of God’s presence and grace. God says to us again and again “get up and eat” so we can see out of our dark valleys and have strength for the journey.

Jesus Christ, thank you for offering yourself to us again and again in all the means of grace that we might have our eyes open to see you, ourselves, and the world clearly. Strengthen us by your powerful presence when we are wandering in the wilderness of depression. Amen.