The title of today’s post is taken from Eugene Peterson’s The Jesus Way.
We had another of our wonderful Small Groups Planning Committee Meetings last night, a beautiful blend of young and old, men and women, the practical and the creative, thinkers and doers, all committed to helping our Legacy church family become more closely connected with each other and our God. At one point our discussions last night turned to the Lord’s Supper. Communion. The Eucharist. The purpose of that fellowship meal. How it works. And the power of sharing that meal with God’s people around a Christian table.
The Lord’s Supper is a living, breathing metaphor that portrays our complete unity with each other and our total submission to our Father. God calls us to the table — in a congregational setting on a Sunday morning with several hundred other disciples or with a dozen brothers and sisters in Jim and Pat’s kitchen — to enter into that four-fold liturgy that we find in the Passover and in the Last Supper and in each of Jesus’ resurrection meals: taking, blessing, breaking, and giving.
In our communion together, the life of Jesus is taken and blessed and broken and distributed. And that shapes our lives as we give ourselves to each other and to our community. Christ in us is to be taken, blessed, broken, and shared in our testimony and service. Christ in us was distributed to over 2,300 needy people here Saturday — economically disadvantaged children, single mothers, jobless fathers. And it’s around the table where that style of living is nurtured and taught.
But that’s not the American Way. Sharing a meal together in the name of Jesus in someone’s house isn’t enough. It’s not nearly “enough” for the American Christian. We need bigger and flashier and better and louder. We’re a nation of consumers. And so we try to get people into our churches by giving them what they want. Eugene Peterson writes:
“We identify what they want and offer it to them, satisfy their fantasies, promise them the moon, recast the Gospel in consumer terms: entertainment, satisfaction, (I would add “experience”), excitement, adventure, problem-solving, whatever. This is the language we Americans grow up on, the language we understand. We are the world’s champion consumers, so why shouldn’t we have state-of-the-art consumer churches?
Given the conditions prevailing in our culture, this is the best and most effective way that has ever been devised for gathering large and prosperous congregations. Americans lead the world in showing how to do it. There is only one thing wrong: this is not the way in which God brings us into conformity with the life of Jesus and sets us on the way of Jesus’ salvation. This is not the way in which we become less and Jesus becomes more. This is not the way in which our sacrificed lives become available to others in justice and service. The cultivation of consumer spirituality is the antithesis of a sacrificial, ‘deny yourself’ congregation. A consumer church is an anti-christ church.”
With the “end” in mind: the giving of our lives fully to Christ and his Kingdom, the “means” really do matter. In fact, aren’t the end and the means really the exact same thing?
Larry Tolleson has sent me a bunch of pictures he took while we were at Texoma a couple of weekends ago. I was mostly interested in the shots of Tate rounding second during the kickball game. Larry provides pictures of Tate running to third(notice Shanna in the four-wheeler in the background that started the tragic chain of events) and of Tate immediately after he separates his shoulder. He missed the actual slip and fall that resulted in the injury. Or maybe he just chose not to forward that picture, proving that his feelings toward Tate and his situation are much more sensitive than mine. But he also got a clean shot of Jennifer trying to cram his arm back in the socket. Ah, memories.
Here are some other random shots of us and the kids that weekend.