Just recently, I made a short animated video to promote St Luke’s. As this has proved popular on the web, I thought I might try my hand at one on communion. But then a question struck me. And it is – what is sacrament of Holy Communion really all about?
Well, of course, I would start by explaining that essentially it is the re-enactment of the Last Supper between Jesus and his followers. Then I would go on to mentioned that it is therefore an eternal reminder of Christ’ sacrificial death. In other words, this meal symbolises Jesus offering his life up to his disciples and his followers; past, present and future.
By now the viewer of my video clip could be saying – That’s all fine and dandy. But why did Jesus have to sacrifice himself in the first place?
And that would lead into the idea of his death on the cross being the ultimate point when evil and malfeasance were defeated. Needless to say, this supreme act’s victory over badness works across a personal and global canvas.
It is at this point, we might decide to introduce a more practical image.
So instead of going further into salvific theology, I would rely on the aura of this holy mystery. Put simply, I would portray Communion as creating the most sacred moment in Christianity no matter what your tradition. Some viewers would say that they find God in the hills and the valleys, others when with friends and family. But none equal this moment at the Lord’s Table for his abiding presence.
By now, the video clip viewer’s attention span would be fast running out. Time, indeed, to wrap up our movie epic. And what better way than concluding with the idea that communion is our act of thanksgiving.
Role credits – message finished!
Yet there is a nagging doubt as the words – The End – appears on the screen. Since maybe I should have gone on to explain the how of communion?
What indeed would we put in our video’s sequel?
Well the answer to the question lies in our Psalm for today. For it starts by reminding that if we want to be ready for the presence of God, we need to wait. If we want to enter the presence of God, we need to wait. If we want to have communion with God, we need to wait. Bartimaeus too had to wait for the Christ’s presence and communion. So if we want to teach anyone about communion then we need to mention waiting.
Now of course there are various types of waiting. There is the vacant and soulless waiting for a bus or train. There is the anxious and dread-filled waiting for examination or test results. But there is also the better type of waiting; the Christmas type of waiting if you like, the waiting in anticipation of God’s timetable and the waiting in enthusiasm for the Christ’s presence in communion.
Yet the Psalm goes on and talks of trust. Also Bartimaeus showed trust. Since when Jesus asked him what he wanted – he replied I want see. And in that instant he implied trust, he expressed trust and he trusted in trust.
As we approach the Lord’s Table we too must have trust if we want to be thankful for Christ’s trust in his father. The trust to bring him through death to resurrection.
And we do that best by playing the movie in our heads of our past when we have proved that God has listened, that God has acted and when God has done wonders. When indeed we have had our sight restored, our wholeness returned and our lives healed.
Finally, there is one supreme act of doing communion. It is there in the last lines of our Psalm. It is there in the last lines of Bartimaeus story. It is there in the word – proclaiming. Since if we are genuinely thankful this day for communion then we must proclaim it by following – we must proclaim it by giving witness – we must, above all, proclaim it by staying together in continuing fellowship. Because have we not heard?
I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
In the great assembly;
Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You Yourself know.
10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth
From the great assembly.
Yet why this need to stick together? Why this need to pull together? What is the power and strength of the great assembly?
Well Brett Blair at Sermons.com talks of Redwood trees.
This is what he says:
Though I have never seen the Sequoia trees of California, known as Redwoods, I am told they are spectacular. They tower as much as 300 feet above the ground. Strangely, these lofty trees have unusually shallow root systems that spider out just under the surface of the ground to catch as much of the surface moisture they can. And this is their vulnerability. Storms with heavy winds would almost always bring these giants crashing to the ground but this rarely happens because they grow in clusters and their intertwining roots provide support for one another against the storms.
Here then is the ultimate key and fruit of communion.
For we may say – like the psalmist – I desire to do your will O Lord and want to give thanks at my succeeding. We may like Bartimaeus be tested in life and wish to give thanks for passing through. We can see the good and bad scenes in our own personal movie and want to give thanks for its overall glory.
And we will indeed give that due thanks if we remember those giant Sequoia trees.
Since then in communion we can support and be supported in those difficult times by the touch of one another’s life. Since then in communion we know that we are not alone. Since then in communion we will grow together from the depths and ever upwards towards towering heights in Christ.