Today is my normal Fast day. A 24 hour period that I have dedicated to spend with my feet under the Lord’s table and getting full. My confession is that I ate lunch today BUT I have some good excuses.
Number 1, if you know me very well, you know that I am not legalistic about very many things and especially about the Spiritual Disciplines. Number 2, I honestly believe that I was led by our Lord to break the Fast and fellowship around the table with some of my clergy friends.
Let me explain. I am at the point in The United Methodist Church of Provisional Elder. That means that I am a provisional Elder and have a 2 year process to participate in. In this process the Conference along with Conference Mentors observe my ministry and help to guide when I have questions or concerns. One of my mentors is an Elder that I meet with once a month on a one to one basis and the other is a group meeting with other clergy in Holston that are in the same point in this Ordination process.
In the group meeting we are studying the book “This Holy Mystery”, it is about Holy Communion and a United Methodist Understanding on this Sacrament. By the way, it is a great study.
Today my friend, Kristie Banes had the responsibility of leading the group and did a fine job. In her closing, communion was observed and Kristie had us sing the responses in the Liturgy. I had never done this before and to be honest I was skeptical.
Let me just say that it touched me (The Holy Spirit) touched me in a way that moved me. It was a moving experience, maybe not for everyone, I can’t speak for the others, but for me it was awesome!
I had plans to move on after communion and return to the office without going to share a meal with the others as we try to do each time but today I was again moved by the Holy Spirit to break my Fast and go to lunch with the group. To share in the fellowship and relationship building that comes with a relationship with Jesus.
In the book “The Sacred Meal” by Nora Gallagher, written by a lay person from a perspective different from all theological, Nora writes, “It’s traditional to think that the shape of Communion of Eucharist (taking bread and wine, saying thanks, breaking the bread, and then sharing bread and wine) comes from Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper. But Paul Bradshaw, an authority on the Eucharist, says its more accurate to says its roots are in the various meals that Jesus shared with his followers and others throughout His life. Bradshaw also notes that each early Christian community seems to have had its own form of communal meal practice; a standard form emerged much later. Some gatherings of early Christians practiced a meal in which the cup ritual seems to have preceded rather than followed the bread ritual, Bradshaw wrote. Others linked themselves to the Last Supper”.
The early Christians practiced some form of an early Communal ritual, and in each house, it was probably different. As well as the cup and wine ritual,these early communities almost always had a meal together. In other words the ritual was linked to actual food, a real meal, a gathering of friends over dinner. Only later were meal and Eucharist (or Communion) separated”.
” In the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the state – and everything changed. Celebrated now in large public buildings the Eucharist took on the style of an imperial court ceremony and…features drawn from the pagan religions around” …”Everything changed”
Here is my point, I believe that when Jesus shared the bread and the cup with His disciples, they had also shared a meal together, a real meal with food, drink and fellowship. I believe that all of this is a part of the Celebration that Jesus had with His disciples.
I experienced that today with my clergy friends. It was one of the most simple but meaningful Communion Fellowships that I have ever been a part of. I felt a real connection to my brothers and sisters today, and most of all a real connection to Jesus the Christ. I am blessed.