The Moment Jesus Was There

In some worshiping traditions a bell is rung as the Holy Communion bread and wine are consecrated (the moment when it changes from merely bread and wine to the body and blood of Jesus).

I have a vague recollection from a Church History class that some people in the Middle Ages would run from church to church to arrive as the bells rang because that, for them, was the moment Jesus was there.

We've swung far in the other direction, perhaps too far.  We speak of God being everywhere and have gotten so casual with Communion as to reduce it to a symbol rather than the real, if mysterious, presence of Christ.

God is everywhere, I believe that, but we have lost something significant if there aren't some places and occasions when God's presence is more consistently known.  Yes, God is available and often known in the beauty of a walk on the beach or a reflection in a garden.  But there's reason to set aside spaces for corporate worship - God is most consistently experienced in the gathering of his people who sing, pray, read, reflect, receive, and give together.

Last week's gospel spoke of Jesus being made known in the taking, blessing, breaking, and giving of the bread (Luke 24:30-31).

Acts 2:42 describes the early church as those who devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:44-47 shows the church as generous in giving to care for the needs of others, regularly together in the temple, sharing meals in homes, and praising God.

This Sunday the services are designed around Psalm 23, which is pitched in the first person, but, as with all psalms, is meant to be on behalf of all of us.  The Lord is our Shepherd and our Shepherd gives us the comfort and guidance of his rod and staff when we gather together to hear his word, offer our prayers, receive his body and blood, and join as one in praise.

God will be at Central Sunday.  I hope you will be, too.