By Pete Heiniger | February 15, 2018
All of us who grew up in Western culture know what it is like to celebrate a birthday. We get it. No explanation needed.
However, if we would have come from a foreign, non-Western culture…we might not understand birthday parties at all.
Think of the questions we might have! Why is everyone bringing gifts? Why are they setting the cake on fire? What’s with the party hats and balloons? What on earth are you celebrating? What are you trying to say to the person whose birthday it is?
If we were asked that, we might respond with the idea: We’re celebrating the fact that they were born…the world is a better place because they’re a part of it. But, we are also not just celebrating a baby born years ago, right? We’re celebrating the person today – right now – at present – and how much they mean to us. But, there’s more, right? We’re wishing them many more birthdays.
It is in that sense that a birthday party draws in the Past and the Future and brings them into the Present.
Many of you who grew up in church to some degree – or any of you who now attend a weekend service at DCC – know that we take communion or The Lord’s Supper each week. Some of you might even know that Jesus did this with his disciples and patterned it after the Passover.
So, if we look at the Jewish Passover – what do we find?
Well, we know that each family was to observe the Passover each year. We know the patriarch of the family would read the story of the Exodus – where Moses led the children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and eventually to the Promised Land.
But, it was more than that. They were instructed to read the story in the present tense…just as if they had been the ones who had crossed the Read Sea with Moses. They were to use pronouns like “we” and “us” – even though they were generations removed from those who had actually lived during that Exodus…they were to read it as though they were the ones who had done it, experienced it, and followed God’s man, Moses.
In the Passover celebration, they looked back and brought that past event into the present and read it as though it had happened yesterday. But, they also were to thank God for his provision and protection in the present. Yet still, there was a part of the celebration that looked to the future with expectant hope of God’s return…and the sending of the Messiah…and a new Kingdom instituted by God.
In the same way, as our familiar birthday celebrations, the Passover celebration brings the Past and the Future into the Present.
So, what was Jesus doing when he patterned our communion or Lord’s Supper after that concept?
Well, it is in the taking of communion that we look back to when Jesus was whipped, beaten, and murdered (his body broken)…and when Jesus’ blood was shed for the entire world for forgiveness of sins.
But, it also carries the idea that right now, today, when we take communion, that we are praising and thanking God for that forgiveness he has given to us through that death and shedding of his blood.
Yet, in another sense, we are also looking forward to the future when Jesus returns and brings with him the end of death, sin, pain, and so much more. We look to that with expectant hope!!!!
So, think about that this weekend, when you have a chance to take communion! It’s looking to the Past and the Future and bringing them into our Present!