Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Communion & The Kingdom Of God (part 3 of 3)

Let it be said that it is precisely at the communion table (as a microcosm of the messianic banquet, an announcement of the advent of the kingdom of heaven, and a reminder of Jesus’ ministry as it is so well summed up by His own meal practice) that the past, the present, and the future become a single reality that is full of mystery and wonder. 

Not leaving behind the Abrahamic covenant component of the communion, and its promise, reflecting the Creator God’s intentions for the redemption of His creation and of His image-bearers that would manifest itself in an acknowledging worship of Him, that all nations would be blessed by Abraham and his progeny, one sees that all of God’s past promises (with their present kingdom and future kingdom implications) are being fulfilled whenever and wherever peoples of all sorts come together to celebrate the table of the Lord. 

It is at that very moment, in which all stand before the covenant God, to lift the elements in recognition of the universal Lordship of Christ, and to do so in a full equality that is devoid of divisions and barriers to participation, that it is possible to catch a glimpse of the glorious future that the Creator intends to bring to pass for His world that He so loves, and for the creatures to whom He lent His image.  More than that, as one looks to the example that has been provided by Jesus, at the meals at which He participated, the ceremony (sacrament if you like) that He instituted, and the understanding of both that were held by the early church, remembering that for both Jesus and the church that He left in His wake, their vision of the kingdom was informed by Isaiah’s beautiful vision of the messianic banquet. 

With that in mind, one is also able to rightly perceive that the all-inclusive table of Jesus---the table that announces the kingdom of heaven while also confirming a desire to participate in the outworking of that kingdom, while undoubtedly possessing a Gospel communicating power that is able to move those who participate at the table without having made a confession of Jesus as Lord, to come under the conviction of such a confession (thereby informing all that the communion table should be an open one)---becomes among other things, a unifying force that breaks the back of racism, class division, and any and all types of social ostracism, marginalization, or oppression.  It does these things, at least partially, through a reminder that goes out to all, be it individuals, groups, or governments, that Jesus is king. 

Knowing this, is it not a shame that the breaking of the strength of that which often unnecessarily divides does not occur each and every time believers  gather together, as a signpost to the world that, in the kingdom of God as represented by the church, the principalities and the powers that hold an undue and illegitimate sway in the world have been stripped of their authority at the cross and are now under a demand to submit to the Lordship of the crucified One? 

If one knows this, and is cognizant of the charge that Jesus, with the messianic banquet in mind, while preaching and embodying the power and presence of the kingdom of heaven, was frequently charged with dining with all of the wrong people (tax collectors and sinners), then how could the church ever allow divisions at the table that was gifted to His disciples within what was obviously the same mindset?  On what basis can anyone close a table and exclude anyone from participation?  Do believers dare limit participation at the table of the Lord (which is not an individual body’s table but the table of the Lord) to a certain group of people that have met a certain set of subjective requirements that have been established in what might very well be an air of unearned superiority and unheeding forgetfulness of the example of the Lord of that table? 

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