On January 29th, our community again gathered at our home. As Don said at the beginning of our time to a visitor Donny, "welcome to our little experiment!" Donny has been living in the neighborhood a bit west of us for the last 10 years and our community was able to hear a bit about his heart for mentoring and discipling. You can check out what God is doing in his ministry by going to his website with City Life - Youth For Christ here: Donnyirving.wordpress.com. Would love to connect others to help mentor kids and young adults in our neighborhoods! What would our city look like if each one had one!?
We are still finding a rhythm to our liturgy as we worship in our homes. Yet, I have found it inspiring that others are willing to jump into worship in such a vulnerable space - especially if I'm trying to lead it. When we came into our first song, I was completely off key vocally, we did stick it out as I got back on as we sang through a neat new song by Will Reagan and the United Pursuit Band - called "You Carried me." Check it out here: Worshiptogether.com/songs/you-carried-me-united-pursuit.
At this Family Worship Gathering we entered into the story of God and how he has used bread to not only physically nourish, but spiritually nourish his people.
Here are some connections we made:
Bread and Curses:
By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, till you return to the ground,Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” GEN 3:19
We came from the ground and will return to it - just like grain that is pressed into bread. After the fall, there was great toil to make bread and to have substance. Yet, some find incredible joy in making bread. Take a couple from our community for instance that find the time to create a meal to be a time to look forward to! God's special and common grace for people who find this same kind of restoration through cooking - all come through the one who was born in a manger. It was a place where animals ate. Not only that but he was born in a town literally called "the house of bread" Phonetically, "Beit Lechem" in Hebrew, Bethlehem in English.
Bread and Life:
Jesus goes on to say:
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. John 6:48-51
We also connected this to the wilderness incident of the snakes in Numbers 21:9 and its relationship to John 3:14 - which of course leads into one of the most popular verses ever of John 3:16. We all can eat incredible bread, but man cannot live on bread alone. That was Jesus response during a temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4). We are in need for something more than just physically nourishing. We need spiritual revitalization.
The Visitors and the Four-fold Pattern of Worship:
We kept diving in as we also heard more about special visitors like Melchizedek - priest of the most high and king of Salem (or peace in English). Don was also able to share his deep appreciation for the icon of the three visitors (check it out here: Soulshepherding.org/2012/08/enjoy-the-hospitality-of-the-trinity-with-rublevs-icon). These visits reflected a four-fold pattern of worship that the church still uses today.
- We are gathered by God,
- The spiritual word of the Lord is opened or given,
- There is a response of physical dining together,
- Then we are sent out as his people.
Institutions of the Unleavened Bread and Lord's Supper:
Finally we looked at the institutions of the unleavened bread and the Lord's Supper. Jesus was sharing a Passover meal with his disciples. Remembering together that Israel relied on unleavened bread. When Pharaoh told them they were finally free - they had to make as much bread as possible in a very short amount of time. There was no way they could wait for it to rise and become leavened. Moreover, it was finally the Angel of Death that passed over all of those who marked there doors with the blood of the lamb.
Now Jesus instituted a new Passover meal. A meal that we remember that he was the final spotless lamb to ever be sacrificed - once and for all, to be an ever purifying spring of life. Again, he is the bread of life. Born in a feeding bin for animals. The Israelites even relied upon the manna, but the physical stuff only lasts for a day, or several weeks if we pack in the preservatives. Manna of course had anti-preservatives.
Jesus does not need preservatives, instead when we take him in we are preserved - both today and all the days to come. As a reminder of his continual nourishment we are able to break bread together as His body and get fueled up to be sent out.
Those are just a few ways we began to see the Lord's Supper. We look forward to breaking bread with each other soon.