Perhaps we have reached the most significant part of our time in worship—the meal, Holy Communion, the Eucharist, the Great Thanksgiving. God’s meal is a sacrament—a gift for God’s people that comes with a promise, contains an earthly element, and is sealed with a promise from God. We trust that by participating in the sacrament, we will receive the promise of God, not because of what we are doing, but because of who God is.
Before we get too far into this discussion though, let’s also not forget that the first part of our “Meal” in worship is the giving and receiving of offerings. We intentionally take time to give back to God what God has already given us (which many of you know as “ourselves, our time, our possessions). It’s true that in our contemporary society, “offering” has become simultaneous with “money,” but this tradition is rooted much deeper. First crops and the first born of animal herds were brought before an altar of God; people would come forward to offer their talents—all for the ministry that their place of worship needed.
Offering can be a joyful time, which you know . . . particularly if you’ve experienced our “noisy offering.” The open hands of little ones, as we dig for our change, the pitter-patter-splatter of little (and not so little) feet running to give what is theirs, if only for a brief moment, back to God. Imagine that joy as you offer your financial resources, or pray for ways to offer your time and talents back to God to be used for the ministry we do here at St. Paul’s.
I like to think about offering as the gift brought before a fancy dinner we’ve been invited to. Think about how often you attend a dinner party, or a holiday with family, and you bring the best dessert you can make, or your favorite wine—not because you have to, but because giving back before you’ve received so much from the host is good to do. Our offering before communion isn’t too different!
As you hear us say every time we come to God’s table: “Communion is God’s gift to us—to all of us—and therefore, all are welcome to come forward and receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” We al- ways use Jesus’ own words to proclaim the command and promise found in this meal. The command to DO this very thing in remembrance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the promise that in the body and blood, we receive God’s forgiveness AND are nourished to go out from our place of worship and be God’s love in the world. In modern words: “we are who (what) we eat.”
In some churches, this sacrament is celebrated every time the community gathers. In other churches, the sacrament is celebrated a bit less often—either because of time restraints on worship, or because tradition dictates. Do you feel worship to be different when we celebrate the meal vs. when we do not?
I’d love feedback on this!
See you in church, Pastor Sarah
-This article was taken directly from our monthly newsletter, The Sower. For all of the July 2017 articles click HERE.