Communion

As you have been Fed at this Table,
Go to Feed the Hungry!
As you have been set Free,
Go to set Free the Imprisoned!
As you have Received--
Give! As you have Heard--
Proclaim!
And the Blessing,
Which you have received from Creator,
Son and Spirit,
Go with you.
Amen






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For Everyone Born a Place at the Table
And God will delight when we are creators of Justice, and Joy, Compassion and Peace.
Yes God will delight delight when we are creators of Justice, and Joy, Compassion and Peace.





Sung by the Choir and Congregation of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska on November 10, 2013. firstplymouth.org



This may be an unorthadox understanding of Communion...
but I believe it is one that is personal and understandable!

Doubting Thomas

So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side,
I will not believe it."
John 20:25

We usually remember these doubting words of the Apostle Thomas. Somehow these words of doubt are what usually comes to mind when thinking of Apostle Thomas – “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas in the Scriptures also said great words of love, compassion, courage, and loyalty.



John 20:26-29

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."



Thomas is most notably known for his skepticism, unbelief, and doubt at a great time of fear and grief soon after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jesus has been falsely arrested, flogged, beaten, and died an excruciating death nailed to a cross. Thomas was disillusioned, and afraid; for all had been lost. The Jesus the Messiah, the Savior he has been following is DEAD.

We know from the scriptures how Peter denied Jesus three times,
“No, I don’t know him,” and then the cock crowed. We don’t know exactly what happened to Thomas from the Gospels. But when Jesus was arrested he probably fled just like Peter. Thomas may have been watching the whole horrible arrest, flogging, crucifixion, and death from afar but as close as he could get without being discovered.

Or I wonder if it was like Peter? Did someone recognize him as a follower of Christ? Had Thomas denied to the angry crowd, “No, I don’t know him.”
I wonder if Thomas was wracked with guilt for not having the courage to stay with his Lord Jesus. Not too long ago at the death of Lazarus Thomas had said with courage, love, and loyalty his wiliness to die with Jesus, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." John 11:16

Was Thomas ashamed of himself? Did Thomas despise his own actions? Does Thomas wish he could take things back his actions and do things differently? But now it’s too late; Jesus is DEAD. There is no more hope; Jesus is DEAD.

I wonder that Thomas felt so bad and was so unwilling to forgive himself, that he was so ashamed of himself, that was the reason why Thomas was not with the comfort of the other disciples? Often when we suffer from despair and depression we do not want and will not be in the company of those who love and would care for us.

And what happens? The disciples are scared hiding behind locked doors. And then Jesus actually appears to the other disciples when Thomas is not present! Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23 Jesus tells them not to be afraid. To tell the world of the “good news” that whoever believes and is baptized is saved.

The others disciples tell Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!” And this is when Thomas responds his famous doubting lament,

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

I believe that Thomas meant every word of what he had just said. I wonder if Thomas was striking back. He knew that Jesus was DEAD; he had seen the crucifixion and death with his own eyes. Thomas has seen the large stone rolled covering the tomb. Jesus was DEAD.

The words of the disciples probably were not very comforting to Thomas anyway? Jesus did not appear to him, Thomas knew that he had done nothing to deserve, nothing, to earn, nothing to merit grace, love, and forgiveness from the Risen Christ. Thomas might of thought that he was too unforgivable, too undeserving for Jesus to appear to him. How often do we feel that we are too unforgivable, too undeserving to be forgiven by God’s love and grace?

Again Christ has come to show that Jesus has come into the world not to condemn the world but to save it. (John 3:16)

Jesus came to Thomas. Jesus reached out his loving hands to Thomas. Jesus encouraged Thomas. This was when Thomas truly recognized Jesus as, “My Lord and my God!”



This is one way I have come to understand Communion.

Communion is when are at the Lord’s Table. This is when Jesus says to us, “Peace be with you,” “do not be afraid.”
This is a time when Jesus comes to us with outstretched loving hands of grace.

Christ reaches out and touches us. He places His hand on our hand and says,
“Put your finger here, see my hands.”
This is when we reach out, and touch Jesus.

Then Jesus says, "Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”
This is when we recognize and see Jesus.

Then Jesus encourages us, “Stop doubting and believe.”
This is when we truly say,
“You are my Lord and my God.”
This is when we truly come to God.

Just as the Triune God is One, with Jesus we are One, with God and one another, we are One. With all of those who have come before, with all of those who are with us today, and with those who will ever be, we are One – Communion.

When we place our hands on Jesus’ wounds
we begin to recognize the scope of
His sacrificial love for us.

When we place our hands on Jesus’ wounds
we know that Jesus recognizes and feels
all our of our pain and
He is with us in our pain.

When we place our hands on Jesus’ wounds
we know that Jesus never ask us to go
where He has not already gone before.

Welcome to God’s Table.





Jesus Appears to Thomas
24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:24-31




"In Remembrance of Me" by Third Sunday (band)
Bible Basics Video Presentation

"In Remembrance of Me"
Windows Media Video





By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who understand the sharing of bread and wine in Jesus' name to be a representation of an ancient vision of God's feast for all peoples.

While bread and wine are the central symbols of Christian worship today, the imagery predates even early Christianity. The people of Israel told stories about God feeding them in times of distress - manna for the tribes wandering in the wilderness and an inexhaustible jar of meal for Elijah. After Abraham had won a great battle, the mysterious “Melchizedek king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God most high” (Genesis 14:18). This legendary use of bread and wine in cementing a relationship between two ethnic groups is but one example of a ritual meal pointing to God’s concern for diverse peoples.

Another appears among the prophecies of Isaiah:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wine strained clear. (Isaiah 25:6)

Note that in this vision of the banquet all the nations, tribes, and clans of the earth are God’s guests. No one is to be excluded!

The vision of God’s banquet in Isaiah, may have inspired the story that is most often told in the gospels - Jesus feeding the multitudes, either four or five thousand at a time. In these stories, Jesus lays down no conditions for participation, establishes no barriers to the meal.

At his last supper with his disciples, Jesus invited all twelve to share in the bread and wine, although not one of them had yet developed any faith in him. Of the twelve - one betrayed him, one denied him, and the rest ran away.

Following the example of Jesus, we think that all people present should be offered bread and wine whenever the church celebrates the Lord’s Supper. As they share the ritual meal, they participate in the vision of a just world where all people live at peace.

The “banquet” that always begins with the bread and wine has been a symbol of inclusiveness and reconciliation throughout the Jewish and Christian traditions. How ironic it seems that the church for centuries has used communion as the symbol and tool for divisiveness, often creating complicated rules, laws and policies about who can receive the communion elements and who cannot.

And yet many of our favorite stories of Jesus’s life are about his open table, his table of fellowship, and the wonderfully strange and unique people with whom we find him “breaking bread” and dining.





Bryan Field McFarland's current recording project is called Until All Are Fed, and brings together his music and his work as Hunger Action Advocate for the Presbytery of Salem, North Carolina. I got to talk with Bryan in preparation for this review, and he was kind enough to let me listen to advance tracks as the project took shape.

Until All are Fed

Until All are Fed
How long will we sing?
Show long will we pray?
How long will we write and send?
How long will we bring?
How long will we stay?
How long will we make amends?
Until all are fed!
We cry out;
until all on earth have bread.

Like the One who loves us each
and every one we serve until all are fed!




HarperCollins, 1994 - Religion - 150 pages

Of the many recent books on the historical Jesus, none has explored what the latest biblical scholarship means for personal faith. Now, in Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg addresses the yearnings of those who want a fully contemporary faith that welcomes rather than oppresses our critical intelligence and openness to the best of historical scholarship. Borg shows how a rigorous examination of historical findings can lead to a new faith in Christ, one that is critical and, at the same time, sustaining.




As you have been Fed at this Table,
Go to Feed thge Hungry!
As you have been set Free,
Go to set Free the Imprisoned!
As you have Received--
Give! As you have Heard--
Proclaim!
And the Blessing,
Which you have received from Creator,
Son and Spirit,
Go with you.
Amen


As you have been Fed at this table,
Go feed the Hungry!
As you have been set Free,
Go set the Free the Imprisoned!
As you have Received--Give!

As you have Heard--
Proclaim!
And the Blessing, which you have Received from Creator,
Son of Spirit, go with you.
Amen


More Like Falling in Love by Jason Gray


"Believing in Jesus does not mean believing doctrines about him," Borg writes. "Rather, it means to give one's heart, one's self at its deepest level, to . . . the living Lord."

Drawing on his own journey from a naive, unquestioning belief in Christ through collegiate skepticism to a mature and contemporary Christian faith, Borg illustrates how an understanding of the historical Jesus can actually lead to a more authentic Christian life—one not rooted in creeds or dogma, but in a life of spiritual challenge, compassion, and community.

In straightforward, accessible prose, Borg looks at the major findings of modern Jesus scholarship from the perspective of faith, bringing alive the many levels of Jesus' character: spirit person, teacher of alternative wisdom, social prophet, and movement founder. He also reexamines the major stories of the Old Testament vital to an authentic understanding of Jesus, showing how an enriched understanding of these stories can uncover new truths and new pathways to faith.

For questioning believers, doubters, and reluctant unbelievers alike, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time frees our understanding of Jesus' life and message from popular misconceptions and outlines the way to a sound and contemporary faith: "For ultimately, Jesus is not simply a figure of the past, but a figure of the present. Meeting that Jesus—the living one who comes to us even now—will be like meeting Jesus again for the first time."



As you have been Fed at this Table,
Go to Feed thge Hungry!
As you have been set Free,
Go to set Free the Imprisoned!
As you have Received--
Give! As you have Heard--
Proclaim!
And the Blessing,
Which you have received from Creator,
Son and Spirit,
Go with you.
Amen