Thursday, September 23, 2010

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

When I teach my confirmation kids about Holy Communion, I ask them why they think Jesus used bread and wine.  Of course, the answers vary, but usually I finally get the opportunity to relay to them the fact that in the first century, bread and wine were some of the most common items found in any household.  Even the poor had bread and wine available to them.

Jesus took ordinary, everyday items and turned them into something extraordinary--a holy meal that forgives sins and strengthens faith.

I ask the kids what kind of message it would send if Christ had taken something rare and precious and used it to forgive sins.  For instance, what if Jesus had said rubbing a 12 karat diamond forgave sins.  How many people would have access to a 12 karat diamond?  (Very, very few.) 

One of the neatest aspects of Christianity, at least in my book, is how Jesus used ordinary, everyday things to bring the message of God's love to us.  He didn't try to make things exclusive.  He wanted everyone to be able to share, to be able to relate to the goodness of God.  God could be found in the "everydayness" of life.  You didn't have to go to special places to find Him.

This was rammed home to me just a few minutes ago as I was visiting one of my members who has had a prolonged battle with cancer.  We had a great visit in her home, and as I prepared to leave, she asked me if I had my home Communion kit.  Well, it just so happened that my kit was in my other vehicle.

She replied, "Oh, that's O.K., you can bring it next time."

I don't like doing that.  When someone wants/needs Holy Communion, I want to give it then and there.  It's part of my job, but I also had an experience that has scarred me for life.  I once had a dying member request Communion, and I didn't have my kit.  I told her I would be back to see her on Saturday (it was a Thursday).  She died that Friday.  I swore never again would that happen. 

Now, this member is not likely to die very soon, but I'm not one to take a chance.  I told her then and there, "I don't need my communion kit.  If you have some bread and wine, I can give you communion right now."

A short, few minutes later, we had a piece of Mrs. Baird's bread, and a shot of homemade wine sitting before us.  Ordinary items.

I prayed with her, and then began the words of institution, "In the night in which He was betrayed..."

The ordinary became extraordinary.  Bread and wine became body and blood.  Sins were forgiven.  Faith was strengthened.  All because God chooses to make the common, holy.

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