[Side note: I’ve been doing a lot of stress management during Covid – music helps me; apologies for not writing much; work has been busy.]
The first was a quote:
“One who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”Confucius
That is definitely true. No matter how much I think I might know about something, there is always something new to learn, and I acknowledge that. The second is from the mantra’s that provide daily encouragement, and it simply said this…
So this is what I’m going to attempt to do.
Still, I fear I may be touching on a controversial subject – who should or should not participate in communion. Reflecting on those with more restrictive rules or self-imposed exile from the sharing because, let’s face it, there are always times when we don’t feel worthy [clue, we are never as righteous as we believe we are].
Now, I should point out, I’m not a priest, but I am a child of God, a brother of Jesus, cousin, brother, father and son to the multitude of Christians who share the love of Christ in our hearts – I don’t make rules, neither do I enforce laws in a church, but I do have opinions. I feel I’m entitled to hold them, whether other people support them or not.
Bit of background; we have a broad mix of people in our church, whose personalities vary from a more high church or traditional experience right through to the more modern and more open traditions. I have been told I’m more traditional than trendy, reflecting my earlier understanding of the church in youth. We all have different ideas of what church is, what it means to us. Ask anyone around you, “what is a church to you” and I’m sure you’ll get quite a few different answers.
Today I witnessed the struggle of another person.
A person who was painfully aware they have sinned, and their struggle between that knowledge and forgiveness.
This struggle between sin and forgiveness happened during communion. As the rows of people stood and went forward (abiding by our current social distancing practices), one row within earshot caught my attention. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this, and if this struggle had not resolved itself, I might have taken it upon myself to offer help and prayer, but thankfully I did not have to, although I will still pray for this person.
One by one, each person stood up away from the pew, but one person, the last, remained seated and quiet as a mouse said to themselves, “I can’t… I have sinned”. Now, this should not be a surprise to us, we are in this together, and we all find ourselves in this situation, the conflict between sin and forgiveness. But this alarmed me, but I had the patience enough to wait; I’m not sure how long I’d have waited but wait, I did.
My mind was crying out. “No, you sought forgiveness from our Lord God, our vicar has given the general absolution, even still you have been absolved from all sin by the death of Jesus upon his cross, and in his resurrection, he defeated the devil and all his works”.
The Parable of the Lost SonLuke 15:11-31
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
The other thing was “please don’t judge yourself, you do not need to seek forgiveness, God forgives, Jesus forgives, They forgive freely, even when we don’t ask, especially then; think of the parable of the lost son, so many examples. Jesus broke bread with sinners. He went out of His way to break bread with sinners. So if anyone should get up to receive communion, it is you above all others”.
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With SinnersMark 2:13-17
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
While I think all of this, something remarkable happened, something beautiful – that person, the one who acknowledged their sin before God in His house, stood and joined the queue to receive a socially distanced communion.
Inwardly I was cheering – if we were allowed to shout in church, I’d have shouted for joy with one almighty
So if you are ever sat there and feel as if you don’t deserve the forgiveness of Jesus, stop thinking, stop talking, because it is the devil within you that is fooling you. You are always welcome to forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord, through the love of our God, our Father, bestowed upon us through his grace and mercy.
We seek forgiveness and receive absolution in church services or otherwise is not an excuse to continuously sin. Still, unfortunately, it is within our nature. Unfortunately, it is often the easier path to take, so be a mindful Christian, be aware of your circumstances, the situations you find yourself in and the needs of those around you.
If you don’t consider yourself a Christian yet, or at all, remember that to deny that God exists, you are, in fact, acknowledging that He is there. After all, you cannot deny something that does not exist because denial is a refusal to accept the truth.
Regardless, do not deny yourself forgiveness or communion as one body with Christ, as this one person almost did. They did a beautiful thing today. Whether anyone else noticed it does not matter (that I did was perhaps circumstantial), the only thing that mattered was that inner conversation at that time between that person and God. I am so happy that took place.
I am so glad forgiveness won.
If I am ever in a situation where I am priested (seems more unlikely each passing year) and you are before me refusing communion because you have sinned, please don’t sit there. Instead, come forward because you need it more than those who don’t readily acknowledge their sins. To judge another is a sin. To judge oneself is a sin and carries a much heavier burden that we cannot afford to have.
Jesus broke bread with sinners.
I will break bread with you just as gladly as He did.