Take, Bless, Break, Share

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NRSV)

Last time I wrote about the overall order of service here at Marshfield Christian Church, and how our worship services are constructed to remind us of the life and ministry of Jesus. During that discussion I noted that it would be difficult to provide a full picture of the “why” of communion. It’s too big of a topic to discuss. And, it’s too important. Communion deserves its own attention, so that’s what we are going to do this time around.

Take a moment to look at the four verbs that I’ve used as the title to this article, take, bless, break, and share. Now, notice that is what Jesus does as he celebrates the Passover meal that we know as the Last Supper. Jesus takes the bread. Jesus gives thanks, or offers a blessing. Jesus breaks the bread. And finally, Jesus shares the bread with his disciples. Then he follows the same pattern with the wine, except instead of breaking he pours the wine. (It’s pretty hard to break a liquid…)

Now, think for a moment about how our worship is structured around communion and the offering. First we take the offering. Then we bless the offering, the bread, and the cup with prayer and meditation. Next we break the bread and pour the wine as we distribute the elements. And finally we share as we hear the words of institution and partake of the elements as a community of faith.

I don’t know about you, but I love how our worship is rooted in the story that we proclaim. It makes a deep connection between our witness and our worship. But, unfortunately, we don’t often realize that beauty. It is the flower planted by our driveway that blooms and we don’t see it because it’s always just there.

So, not only do we remember Jesus’s life, teachings, death, and resurrection in the words of worship, we remember the opportunity for a new and renewed life in Christ in the very flow and form of our worship. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a beautiful and meaningful thing. And, I hope you will notice and appreciate the thought and reflection that goes into something that we often take for granted.

And, since summer is quickly approaching and that often means a time for traveling, I hope you will take note of the order of worship at any congregation you might visit. If you choose to visit another church during your travels this summer (and I hope you would), please bring back a bulletin (if they have one) and let me know what worship was like, and how you felt about the service. I’m always interested in how other churches worship and hearing from you is the best way for me to get those experiences.

I look forward to remembering the life and ministry of Jesus with you as we worship in word and in deed, in spirit and in truth!

Why do we do it that way?

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4:21, 23-24 (NRSV)

Recently the worship committee met to review worship from Lent and Easter and to make plans for the summer months. We also spent some time talking about the order of worship. I believe that how we worship God should grow out of WHY we worship. In other words, what we do should grow out of our theological convictions about who God is, who we are in relationship with God, and how we live out our faith in the community we call “church.”

Our order of worship means something. It’s not just elements thrown together, prayers and songs, preaching and communion… everything is where it is for a reason. But, do you know why?

At Marshfield Christian, our order of worship is roughly based on the life of Jesus. Each week we not only gather at the table, but we reenact the totality of Jesus’ life. From his birth, through his death and resurrection, and then into the mission of ministry in the early church. Did you notice? I didn’t until I was in seminary and studying worship.

Our worship begins with gathering, and praise. Just like that wondrous night at the manger. Like the shepherds gathered to give praise to the Christ-child and the angelic choir lifted their voices, we gather from our various duties and lift our voices to praise God.

Around the Moment for Young Disciples and the anthem, or special music, we are undergoing a transition. I like to think of the children’s moment as a chance to remember the early years of Jesus’ life. We don’t hear much about those years in scripture, but he must have gone to synagogue with his parents, and listened to the rabbi teach.

Then as we move into the sermon we encounter Jesus’ three-year ministry of teaching in the Judean countryside. For me, one of the most amazing things about Jesus’ teaching is how he takes the Hebrew scriptures and interprets them for an audience living in a new and different world. Sure, there are some areas of connection, but Judea of Jesus’ day is much different from Egypt during Moses’ life. The Jewish people were still captive, but their captivity took on a different tone. The job, I believe, of all pastors is to draw out the connections between our contemporary lives and the stories of faith we find in scripture.

Following the sermon we move into a time of giving, sacrifice, and remembering the final hours of Jesus’ life. This portion of the service is so important that I want to take the time to give it due attention. So, I’m saving the thought behind the way this series of worship elements progress for our next newsletter later this month!

As important as communion is in our worship, we know that Jesus’ death is not the end of the story. Jesus rose from the grave, but he didn’t remain on earth forever. He ascended to heaven and left his disciples, us, to carry on the work of sharing the gospel in word and deed. That’s why we end our worship service with a sending forth, and a reminder of our mission as a community of faith.

I hope you find the symbolism and theology of our order of worship to be as beautiful as I do. And, now that you know why things are put together the way they are, I’d love to hear if, and how, worship takes on new meaning for you. I hope to see you in church as we remember the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Here’s how to give…

… and maybe give us a chance to win a great prize!

There will be great prizes given throughout the day. Many of them will be drawings, with each organization getting a chance for every unique donor (you can give multiple times, but you are only a unique donor once!) So, if possible focus your giving between 7-8am, Noon-1pm, 2-3pm, 4-5pm, or 10-11pm. These hours all have $4,000 prizes! Think of how far that would go for us!!!!

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you (online at least) tomorrow for #GiveOzarks day!

What is Give Ozarks day?

You’ve seen us posting about Give Ozarks day, but you’re still not sure what it is… Listen to this

The Bread of Life ministry here at Marshfield Christian Church is seeking donations to enable us to expand our ability to store produce donated by the local Wal-Mart. Keeping these vegetables fresh will add much-needed variety and nutrition to the food boxes we distribute every month to over 175 Webster county families!