Monday Oct 01 2012
From Where I Sit: Caught between the now and thenBy: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
This past Sunday we observed the ageless sacrament of the church known as communion or the Lord’s Supper. The text for the day was the standard one from 1 Corinthians 11. Verses 23–26 read, ”For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.’ For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” It occurred to me that every time we gather as a church and do this, we are, as the last verse says, announcing, or proclaiming, something. First, we are announcing that Jesus came to earth and died. The symbols remind us of His shed blood and His broken body. It looks back to a past time when the Cross darkened a Judean sky. Second, we are announcing that one day we will go to heaven. It looks forward to a future time in a future kingdom. Third, we are announcing that we are not there yet. There is an “in the mean time.” Between the “then” past of the cross and the “then” future of heaven, we have the now. Read verses 17-22 to see how the “now” was for the Corinthians. It wasn’t pretty – strife, division, heresy, selfishness. In other words, real life. In that moment, we are taking one hand and grabbing hold of the past, and taking the other hand and grabbing hold of the future. Doing so helps us to live in the present. We can live now in the strength of Jesus past death for us and in the strength of the hope of heaven in the future. I recently came across a phrase that describes this kind of living very well — a “cross-shaped surrender.” That’s the life we live amidst the messy reality of our day-to-day, on-way-to-heaven lives. No wonder the Bible adds, “As often as you do this.” We need God’s help, often. Reach Tom Rupp at firstname.lastname@example.org.