Tag Archives: Communion

Sacred: Leave the Labels at the Door

1001863_665425030137520_597380408_n

So every July the Shepherds at Highland give me a month to get away and study and plan and pray for the coming year. It’s always a great gift, but it makes me miss Highland and the regular routine. So while I won’t be blogging as regularly for this month, I want to try and stay connected with what is going on at Highland.

This past Sunday, Jerry Taylor preached for our Summer Series Sacred. Jerry talked about how the communion table is the open table of the Lord. One of my favorite lines was “Jesus will not preside over any table that anyone is left out of.” This is extremely important for we religious folk to hear, because we have a real tendency to make our tribe an idol, and make God “Our God”

If you get a chance to listen to Jerry’s sermon, I highly recommend it. He’s one of my favorite preachers, and this was an incredible sermon, you can find it here.

The Margins are the Center

A few years ago, I read an author who was serving in a Christian ministry for sex workers in America. It’s a ministry that was trying to help people get out of an industry that is very hard to leave. At one point, the author was sitting in a circle of former and current sex-workers, and he asked them, “Why do you think that Jesus was so intentional about reaching out to prostitutes?”

And then there was an awkward silence…until one of the working girls said, “Because that meant Everyone…. if He would love and care for people doing what we do, than that means anyone can belong to what He is doing.”

And she is exactly right.

In most societies, we focus on the majority, or how to cast the widest net for the most people. We try to hold the center, even though that inevitably leaves people out….It leaves some on the margins.

But for Jesus, the people on the margins were the center of his ministry.

Acceptance Speech original

So maybe you heard about the bulletin at Our Lady Catholic Church. It’s just a normal parish in Denver, but it got all over the news last year for what it put in it’s bulletin. Here’s how they decided to welcome people to their Jesus commmunity:

“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, and no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, those who are skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you here if you just woke up or just got out of jail. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted.

If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!

This may seem over the top, but this is exactly the kind of invitation Jesus wants his churches to offer. Jesus isn’t saying everyone and everything is okay…He is saying everyone is welcome. 

Did you know that the only visible man-made item from space is the Great Wall of China? Because that’s what we are good at doing. We build up walls, We like to know who’s in and who’s out. And then we love to pretend that God agrees with us. But that’s not the way the Gospel works.

One theologian, a guy named Miroslav Volf, points out that while most religions call exclusion a virtue, the Jesus movement calls it what it is.

A sin.

So on behalf of Church in general, and Highland Church in particular, let me welcome you to the table.

Because everybody, everywhere is included, invited, accepted and blessed.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, you are invited to participate in the grace giving, life changing Kingdom of God.

So have a seat.

P.S. I’m leaving today for Thailand with my 5 year old Daughter. Please pray for us as we go visit and try to encourage and be encouraged by all the missionaries in Asia. 

Sacred: Only the Saved

1001863_665425030137520_597380408_n

 

 “Receive what you already are.”-St. Augustine presiding over Communion

So every July the Shepherds at Highland give me a month to get away and study and plan and pray for the coming year. It’s always a great gift, but it makes me miss Highland and the regular routine. So while I won’t be blogging as regularly for this month, I want to try and stay connected with what is going on at Highland.

This past Sunday, Jeff Childers preached during our Summer Series Sacred, by talking about Communion. He did a great job, and you can hear it here, but you should know, this is not a message for the faint of heart. But then again, neither is communion.

Did you know that back in the 4th century, after Constantine had converted the Roman Empire, the church had a very difficult time figuring out who they should let convert to Christianity? They had a legitimate problem. Now people wanted to belong to the church because it was the socially acceptable thing to do, Jesus was cool, and cross jewelry was just around the corner.

So now the church had a problem…how could they make sure that someone would take following Jesus seriously?

The Road to Communion

So the church developed a plan, that began with something called catechumenate, which was basically three years of hearing the “word of the Lord” and then the candidates who had done well with that, were taken on to the next round where they had their lifestyles examined and went through “daily exorcisms.”

Because let’s be honest, once a week just isn’t enough.

And then, if you went through that round successfully, then they would let you get baptized and take communion. Meaning that in the 4th century it was slightly easier to become the next American Idol than it was to convert.

Now chances are, we hear that and we think how primitive, and exclusive. communion

But then we get upset when we hear about that pastor having the affair, or the minister stealing or embezelling money. It’s all so cliche, which is a fancy word that just means, it happens so much we are tired of hearing about it.

But the sad truth is that Christians in America are very accepting and inclusive, but we aren’t that different.

A Different Kind of Discipleship

I read last year that in China, when someone becomes a Jesus follower, they are asked 7 questions:

  1. Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father?
  2. Are you willing to lose your job?
  3. Are you willing to go to your village, to those who persecute you, forgive them and share the love of Christ with them?
  4. Are you willing to give an offering to the LORD?
  5. Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny Jesus?
  6. Are you willing to go to prison?
  7. Are you willing to die for Jesus?

Now that’s a welcoming packet.

The churches that I’ve worked at, make following Jesus as easy and non-threatening as possible. And rightfully so, but never forget that the questions that Chinese Christians are asking now, are the kinds of questions that Christians have been asking for thousands of years. It’s not enough to just have a dynamic student ministry and great programming and the right facilities. When the Church gathers it is to make us into different kinds of people.

The ancient view of communion, was that through this moment God gives Himself to His people.

And in order to do that, for thousands of years, Christians have excluded those who weren’t ready to make that kind of sacrifice.

There’s lots of ways to be ugly about excluding people, in fact, I think most of us have experienced both sides of this. But the question isn’t whether or not your group excludes, every group does!

And if you doubt that, just find out how your group responds to someone who is exclusive.

The question isn’t whether or not your group excludes, it is how you treat the people that are on the outside,

That is the uniquely Christian virtue, we are not called to just love our neighbor, we are called to love our enemy.

If you want to make a difference in your town or city, than the best place to start is to commit to become a different kind of person.

It’s time to stop just talking about Jesus, it’s time to follow Jesus.

And then you can eat with Him.