Posted tagged ‘upper room’

Apple Juice and Glazed Communion

May 25, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                May 25, 2015

                                     

There were always a few yawns when the men arrived for the 7:30 Saturday Men’s Bible Study group. Ten guys sat around the table, each slurping their first cup of coffee of the day. This was an important part of each man’s weekly schedule. It was where they unloaded, laughed deeply, and uninhibitedly questioned life.

Confidentiality was a valued element of this group. Struggles stayed here. Frustrations didn’t get retold to spouses and girlfriends.

“My brother is considering leaving his wife!” groaned Jimmy.

“Why’s that, Jimmy?”

“He thinks she’s having an on-line affair with some guy that she knew back in high school.”

“Is he assuming, or does he know for sure?”

“I think he’s assuming, but their marriage has been as rocky as Pike’s Peak for some time now. What do I tell him? I can’t condone his walking out on her, but I see the hurt in his eyes every time we talk about it.”

A wise octogenarian named Clarence stroked his silver beard and slowly began to speak. “Jimmy, tell your brother to not do anything…not make any decision for a month. We will commit as a group to pray daily for him, and even more than him, his wife for the coming thirty days. Someone once said that “decisions made in haste lead to a bad taste.”

“I think that someone was you, Clarence,” pointed out another elder of the group named Fred.

Jimmy looked around the table and said “I really appreciate it, fellas’!”

The youngest member of the group, a twenty-something named Matt, spoke up. “A good friend of mine from high school just found out he has advanced cancer.”

Moans and grimaces around the table displayed the group empathy for Matt. Most of them had friends who battled cancer- some won, some lost.

“Have you talked to him, Matt?” asked Steve, a balding forty year old.

“Yes, he’s pretty scared! I told him that we’d be praying for him. He’s not a follower of Jesus, but this has given me some opportunity to talk to him about life and death, hope and faith.”

Steve voiced the group’s commitment to pray for him, and for Matt as he walked alongside his friend.

“This group means a lot to me!” The voice was that of a recently-retired businessman named Daniel, and it was filled with emotion. “I look forward to this every week. Most weeks it’s my highlight. Talking to you guys, especially when I’m dealing with no news from my son from Africa.” Daniel’s youngest son, Nate, was in the midst of a nine-month deployment to a troubled part of Africa.

Clarence, who was sitting next to Daniel, put his hand on his shoulder for a few moments. “We’re in this together, Daniel!”

There was a sacred silence around the table. For a few moments no one stirred or even took a sip of coffee. They sat as a brotherhood.

“Do you know what we should do?” Steve suddenly asked.

“Take a trip to Hawaii and you pick up the tab?” suggested Randy, who was the comedian of the group.

“No…we should share communion together.”

“It’s not the first Sunday of the month, Steve!”

“I don’t think the scriptures say anything about first Sunday communion. That’s just something we created for some reason. No…it seems like it says something in the Bible about having communion whenever to come together…or something like that.”

“That’s not blasphemous, is it?” asked Matt.

“What?”

“To have communion when it’s not even in the sanctuary?”

“Jesus had it in the upper room, Matt.”

Randy spoke up again. “But there’s no grape juice! And you know without a doubt that there’s no wine in this church!”

“Can we pray over water and ask God to change it into wine?”

“Or why can’t we just use apple juice?” suggested Jimmy. Sometimes a question got asked in this group that no one had an answer for. Each man pondered.

“We can,” Clarence affirmed.

“Are you sure, Clarence? Do you think the pope would say it’s okay?”

Randy lightened the moment. “Unless I missed the memo, I don’t think this group turned Catholic.”

“We can…and we will share communion. Do we have a donut left?”

“One glazed!”

“Cut it up in ten pieces. Someone get some of those kid’s size paper cups for the juice and let’s do it.”

There was a hustle of activity as different guys got the substitute elements and prepared the table. Clarence led them through it. The glazed donut had a holy taste to it, not on the tongue, but rather to the soul. After sipping the apple juice Clarence led them in a prayer for Jimmy’s brother and sister-in-law, Matt’s friend with cancer, and for each other. They held hands firmly and with commitment and prayed like the King of Kings himself was sitting at the table with them.

“You don’t think Pastor Bob will be upset by this, do you?” asked Randy.

“Yes, he will be!” responded Steve.

“Really?”

“Yes, he will be upset that he wasn’t here to be a part of this!”

Randy summed it up. “You snooze, you lose!”

 

Thursday Agendas

March 28, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          March 28, 2013

 

We often approach the same event with differing agendas. It’s like going to Lowe’s with Carol. I may be thinking that we’re going there to buy a bag of weed-n-feed, but her agenda is deciding on what new kitchen appliances we’re going to purchase. We enter the front doors and I start heading left…but she’s not following! That’s when she breaks the news to me!

Life often displays our conflicting agendas.

As a pastor I’m often bombarded with them. For instance, I’m thankful that I’m color blind so that I don’t have to be involved in what the color of the new sanctuary carpet is going to be. I have a hard time looking like mis-matched puzzle pieces in what I wear on Sunday morning, let alone knowing whether the carpet looks good or not!

Thursday of Holy Week in an upper room in Jerusalem a group of men with different agendas gathered to partake of the Passover meal. Some of them saw the gathering as a way of impressing the leader. Some of them saw it as a customary meal, like any other passover meal. Some of them saw it as a time to put their feet up. They had been walking a lot lately. An upper room away from the increasing crowds sounded good. One of them knew it was a time of preparation for a difficult time ahead.

Each approached the gathering differently. Only one of them was willing to take the very nature of a servant and wash the feet of the others.

What an awkward moment that must have been, to suddenly realize that one is on a different page than the one who leading! I wonder if there was a few moments of excuses thrown around.

I was just about to do that, Jesus!”

What I meant to say was…”

Next time give me some forewarning. I didn’t know that was what you wanted to see happen.”

My knees are really bothering me today.”

Thursday was like a traffic intersection where six different streets are converging. So of the mass one agenda, one mission, rose to the surface.

How did the others’ wants and preferences disappear?

Easily! Sometimes comparing wants and needs has a way of sorting out what is really important and what I wish would be important.

Of course, how often do I elevate my desires to the throne, and dismiss the Hope of nations?

I have to remind myself of that when I talk about what I “get out of a worship gathering.” What I tend to trash, someone has seen as being life-changing.

Today I will keep surrendering over and over.