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Communion in the Wilderness

• Greg Boyd

At the Passover meal just before Jesus was killed he instituted the practice of communion. When we take communion, we do so in the time between the initial experience of our faith and the final fulfillment of our unity with God and each other. This space “in-between” is like the wilderness the Jews experienced after leaving Egypt but before entering the promised land.

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At the Passover meal just before Jesus was killed he instituted the practice of communion. When we take communion, we do so in the time between the initial experience of our faith and the final fulfillment of our unity with God and each other. This space “in-between” is like the wilderness the Jews experienced after leaving Egypt but before entering the promised land. We know the joy of having been freed from captivity in many ways, but we are not yet fully free and we are not yet fully whole/healed from all that ails us.

Greg referred to this as the “funky in-between time” that has a mixture of joy and sorrow. We need to hold these two distinct realities in tension with each other. We need to live in the freedom and joy of a people who have been set from the condemnation of judgment and the bondage of sin! This is good news indeed! But we also need to be honest and sober about the fact that this world is not our home, we are not yet in the promised land and there are many realities within this world that are painful and apparently they are here to stay until Christ returns. In some cases, we experience healings and miracles and in others we do not. The point is to stay connected and faithful to God and each other.

Greg gave these points of advice in facing difficulties in our lives (including physical afflictions, moral failings and other struggles):

1. Be real. Acknowledge the reality of your situation. And also acknowledge the reality of how you feel about the situation.
2. Search your heart before God about it. If you feel conviction about the issue pray as you feel led to. If its for healing pray for it and ask others to agree with you on this. If its about a moral failing, pray that God would change the desires of your heart.
3. Don’t beat yourself up with “ought’s” and “should’s.” Sometimes we have to say to ourselves, “right now, this is just how it is…”

Living in the wilderness means living with these tensions and the feeling of not being where we want to be yet. Prayerfully with God and our community each one of us has to decide how to relate to these sorts of difficulties in our lives. There are two obvious pitfalls:
a. that we just let ourselves off the hook on our own.
b. that we beat ourselves up for things we can’t change.

We need God and each other to help us recognize when to press on for change and when to accept things as they are for the time being.

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Topics: Communion, Joy, Pain & Suffering


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 22:7-20

    Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover."

    “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

    He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there."

    They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

    When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

    After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

    And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

    In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

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2 thoughts on “Communion in the Wilderness

    Anne Scott says: Friday July 30, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Hello,
    Thanks so much for your message, Communion in the Wilderness.
    Nine months ago i moved to Nevada in a “last ditch” effort to reconcile with my adult son (he is 50) after years of alienation from him.
    I had been sent out to my church in Colorado, blessed and many promises were spoken that my “desert” would bloom in this season.
    Since then, apart from a few e-mails, I have not seen him though he lives less than an hour away.
    This past month, after much prayer I felt the Lord suggest that I should takecommunion each evening before I retire…not as any kind of formula, or action to break through, but as an act of obediencein communion with him.
    Then, earlier this week I understood that I was to surrender all of it to the Lord and to go to the mountain and “build an altar” of reliquishment.
    This evening, I came on line to watch WHC and immediately was drawn to the title of your message…I am so blessed by your honest and open remarks about the living in the valley of disappointment and then by the example of humility and transparency of your friend Scott
    What I have learned this month is the value of communion with the Savior in these deep places of grief. Hopefully, I will be able to grow in grace through this process as is so evident in your friend and in the wisdom of your message.
    anne scott
    reno, nevada

    Reply
    kevin says: Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    The statement, “Jesus Instituted the practice of communion”, has always bugged me. The way the ‘meal’ was done in the early church, i strongly suspect, looked very much different than does the ‘grape juice and cracker’ religious ceremony we practice in our churches.

    Reply

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