Read Psalm 23, Proverbs 1, Mark 14:12-26
I was pastoring a great church in Springfield, Ohio. The church had grown explosively. We had just completed a new building and in this building was something I had always dreamed of as a pastor, a sacristy, a small room set aside for the preparation of the communion elements. Pretty “high church” I know for a Nazarene group but I was an eclectic kind of pastor.
On Christmas Eve we had established a tradition of “drop-in” communion. My little family, Doris, Josh, Jacob, and myself, would serve communion to all the families in the church from say, 2-4pm, as they just randomly came by. In the early days of the church there were just 80 people. Maybe 10 families would stop by and it was great. By now, the first Christmas in our new building, the church had grown to many hundreds, and at 2pm on Christmas eve, there were 400 people waiting to get this thing over with so they could appease their pastor and go back to their family festivities.
Doris was playing the piano, trying to keep the natives from getting restless. I had asked the boys to fill the communion cups in the new sacristy. No happy-meal communion for us. We used the real shot glass kind of things with the silver trays that would hold 50 cups and the silver lid with the little cross on top. I went in to check on the boys, Josh was about 9 and Jacob about 4, and to my dismay, they had filled the cups so full they were heaped up and running over. There was no way to move 10 trays of filled-to-the-max grape juice from the sacristy into the sanctuary without a terrible mess.
I’m in a panic. Doris is playing. The congregation is getting fidgety. And in a moment of inspiration, the solution came to me. I reached in a drawer and pulled out three plastic coffee stirrers. I gave one to each son, I kept one, and I said, “Boys, get busy sipping. And Jacob, NO BACKWASH.” For the next 10 minutes, Josh, Jacob, and I feverishly sucked the “blood of Jesus.” To this day, just the mention of Welch’s Grape Juice makes Jacob queasy.
In the Catholic church, they believe in transubstantiation, the miracle of Jesus turning the communion wine into the actual blood of Jesus. In our little, fundamental denomination we believed in transubstantiation, the miracle of Jesus turning grape juice into communion wine. 😊 Whatever miracle we believe in, Jesus turned the familiar, perhaps routine, ritual of Passover for the Jews into a worldwide, universal, and eternal declaration that would forever change everything. “From now on, when you eat this bread and drink this Welch’s Grape Juice, remember that I paid the ultimate sacrifice for you.”
Tomorrow is Good Friday, a solemn, somber day when we reflect on Our Precious, Unblemished, Innocent Lamb suffering the unimaginable atrocity of the Cross. Don’t move through that too quickly. We will talk about it a little in the morning. I believe we should practice sitting with the bleakness, the despair of that day in order to fully appreciate Easter. But today is one final look past the cross, before Friday, to the forever difference that the sacrifice of Jesus made. He turns grape juice into wine, sadness into rejoicing, flawed human beings into saints, and coffee stirrers into sacred elements. I don’t know for sure about transubstantiation, but I am positive that He changed something in me to a Holy piece of Him. Wow!
See you tomorrow.
And because He changed us:
- Love His Word. Read the Bible readings for today.
- Love His Presence. Pray 12 minutes today using the Our Father as an outline.
- Love His People. Do one random act of kindness for someone today.
- Love His Church. Send your pastor a note of encouragement. (Preferably written on a $20 bill.)*
- Love His Creation. Go to the park and pick up trash for 30 minutes.*
*These are suggestions. 😊