Believe It 2

Tuesday, August 28

Matthew 3:11-12

“Food for your journey.” It is what was said to me as I took communion at a retreat in San Antonio, Texas. It was a very emotional and moving service at the end of a very spiritual weekend.

The bread and juice were food, yes, but that was not the food to which the leader was referring. The communion elements represented the spiritual food that the weekend retreat had given me.

In the same way, our denomination believes the bread is not really the flesh of Jesus and the wine is not literally the blood he shed. We do it in remembrance of what was really going on.

So, now we have John the Baptist talking about baptism. What has John been doing? Who is coming? What will Jesus do when he comes? What does verse 12 mean to you?

This event can be seen as a change in what baptism means. Traditionally it had always been a ritual act of cleansing. Sins were washed away. But now, Jesus comes to be baptized (see Matthew 3:13-17). He has no sins. He does it to “fulfill all righteousness,” to obey the laws of the Jewish faith.

Many people still view baptism as an act of spiritual cleansing, a ritual to remind us that God, through Jesus, is washing away our sins. Others see it as a ritual that reminds us we are marked by God and claimed as new people, people belonging to God. When Jesus was baptized he was filled with the Holy Spirit and he began his ministry. When we are moved to start a new journey, to really dig in at a new ministry, we can remember our baptism and know that we are made new, claimed by God, and given a new spirit.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Do you feel called to start a ministry?

Believe It 1

Monday, August 27

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Most people are familiar with the joke about the young bride who fixed ham for her husband. Before putting it in the oven she sliced off the ends. When her husband asked why, she said she did it because that was how her mother had done it.

The curious husband asked his mother-in-law about cutting off the ends of the ham. She did it that way because her mother had done it that way. Now, really curious, the man inquired of grandma, why cut the ends off the ham?

“My baking dish is too small. It’s the only way to make the ham fit.”

So often we do things out of habit or custom or because it is what is expected. We may even really enjoy what we are doing, but do we know why we are doing it? Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, a body of worshipers who seem to have forgotten the meaning and purpose of their actions (see 1 Corinthians 11:17). He reminds them of what they are doing in observing the Lord’s Supper and what it all means.

Where did Paul get this information? What is the bread of Communion? What does that mean to you?

What does the cup represent? What does that mean to you? Why are we to do these things?

Worship services can be full of tradition and ritual, and sometimes it loses meaning. There is nothing wrong with ritual and tradition. They can bring a richness and depth to worship and to life in general. They can be a strong connection from the present to the past.

But meaningless ritual should be avoided. Habitual worship can be empty. A healthy church knows why the ritual is there and a person with healthy faith knows what it all means. The first step in breathing life into our actions in worship is to remember the source of these actions. Paul said “I received from the Lord” what was being passed on. Our ritual and worship should connect us back to Christ.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Which rituals in your church service do you not fully understand? How can you learn what they mean?