Tending to the Presence of Christ
It makes perfect sense that experiencing the presence of Christ at the Lord’s Table could have a significant impact on the way we live our lives. If I am intentional about remembering Jesus’ sacrifice once a week in communion, I will remember to love others throughout the week. But, to be honest, remembering Jesus’ sacrifice hasn’t actually allowed me to love more or better. In fact, even as we read through 1 John 3:16-24 in the opening liturgy last night, I kept wondering how to really do what Jesus commanded. The call to love others seems so high sometimes given my selfishness, susceptibility to fear, and desire for comfort and safety.
I almost stood up during David Fitch’s teaching last night to yell out, “Oh! I get it! I see!” His thesis: the Lord’s Table shapes us to recognize Christ’s presence here (the place we are receiving the bread and wine) so that we can recognize Christ’s presence out there (in our homes, neighborhoods, and beyond). David showed us in the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus that though Jesus was present with them, the disciples did not discern his presence until they were at the table and Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. (Luke 24:13-31)
So, David asked: What happened that allowed the disciples to discern Christ’s presence in that moment? And what happens at the Lord’s Table that allows us to discern Christ’s presence? David proposed that when we come to the Lord’s Table in the following four postures, we are able to discern Christ’s presence:
- A posture of submission: we come submitting to Jesus and to each other.
- A posture of receiving: we come with gratitude and openness to whatever God might do.
- A posture of ceasing striving: we come with a quieted ego and letting go of our desire to control.
- A posture open to forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration: we come to receive again the forgiveness of Christ over our lives and to receive the renewal of the Holy Spirit.
You can listen to David’s message here or by subscribing to The Practice Podcast.
The beauty of David’s teaching was that it didn’t stop at the Lord’s Table. Instead, he challenged us to take these four postures into our lives, to our own tables, and to every table where we eat and drink. In this way, our participation in Eucharist allows us to tend to Christ’s presence in the world. What would it look like for us to have dinner with our families in a posture of submission? Or of openness and with a quieted ego that has released its desire to control? What would it look like for us to tend to Christ’s presence not just on Sunday nights, but at our every meal? And what if we took these postures with us to Starbucks and McDonald’s or wherever we may find ourselves sitting down with friends or strangers for a meal?
We practiced these postures during our seed-packing after our gathering. Many families across the globe will be able to grow gardens for food and income over the next year because of that packing. And, we were able to practice taking the four postures David taught us beyond the Lord’s Table and into our individual conversations across the table from one another, tending to Christ’s presence as we packed seeds.
I am so grateful that David opened our eyes to these postures at the table. I can’t wait to put them into practice at all the tables I find myself this week. I pray you’ll join me in putting what we’ve learned into practice.
May you take the presence of Christ with you every place you eat this week and tend to His presence there.
Peace and grace,