As you may have heard in worship on May 17th and 18th (and if you didn’t, you can always watch past sermons on our website, Facebook, and YouTube pages), we’re experimenting with different ways to tell the communion story, because there are so many elements and aspects to it!
For some people, a consistent tradition is really meaningful; for others, a little change helps them explore what else the story can mean. It’s not about rejecting the old, but rather exploring different facets of the story so that it can continue to inspire and speak to us in new ways.
What that looks like in our community right now is a different story being told during the Words of Institution — this, taken from John chapter 6, when Jesus talks about being the Bread of Life for all. We also have new words of institution: “The bread of life, given for you” and “The wine of compassion, given for you.” We take these new words of distribution from the Bible as well. Jesus shared a lot of meals with his disciples, and was known to them in the breaking of the bread and sharing of wine.
If you remember all the way back to our Christmas message (also available online), God has always used food as a sign of presence and promise. As Pastor Dan and I were talking in preparation, and as we consulted the ELCA worship materials, we found that there were three major elements of communion that ‘make it’ communion:
1.) Jesus told us/commanded us to remember him by sharing a meal
2.) Jesus promises to be present in the elements
3.) Jesus sends us away from the table with a blessing and charge to make a difference in our world.
As we continue to experiment with how to tell and re-tell this story, in words old and new, we hold to this central core of where this sacrament came from and how it is lived in our community. The body and blood imagery is a part of the story, but not the only way Jesus talks about this table fellowship celebrated each week.
At its most basic and fundamental level, Lutherans believe a sacrament is a material thing that God chooses to inhabit and fill with a promise so that we may have something to hold on to, literally, in times of doubt or fear or questioning. Our hope is that God will continue to be revealed to you in ever new and meaningful ways.
We hope this is the start of a rich conversation for us and our community!
—Pastor Stephanie Vos
June 20, 2014