Encountering Jesus at his table more frequently (part 3)

So why are we content with depriving ourselves or our children or new, freshly baptized believers of the nourishment God longs to give us at the Lord’s Supper table by not celebrating the Sacrament more frequently?

Maybe part of the answer is that we don’t fully appreciate how much God indeed longs to nourish us. The late Robert Webber once counseled a troubled student with this advice: “Flee to the Eucharist!” Jesus would begin to care for and heal this student’s heart at his table.

Hearing about this incident between Professor Webber and his student led Howard Vanderwell to pen these reflections: “How different, I thought, than the way we so often understand and present the Lord’s Supper as a rather stern and somber event we participate in only after we have carefully scrutinized ourselves to make sure we are prepared and ready to come. Here, instead, was the Sacrament with a wonderfully warm welcome where wounded and struggling people could find healing and peace, a table where people could find refuge” (Living and Loving Life, p. 70).

It seems to me that God is eager to welcome, care for, heal, and nourish us, and he will use as many means possible to accomplish this. He indeed speaks his grace to us through our senses of sight and hearing as we read and listen to the Word. Through the Word, “God makes himself known to us,” as the Belgic Confession puts it (article 3). But, as I mentioned in part 1, recognizing that we are physical and material beings, God graciously uses physical and material things (namely the water, bread, and juice of baptism and the Lord’s Supper) to also communicate his grace to us.

As Leonard J. Vander Zee explains in his book Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God knows “we need more than talk, more than words on a page; we [also] need a touch, a smell, a taste – just as lovers need more than the words ‘I love you’ but also a kiss or an embrace… The Lord’s Supper is a physical handle faith grabs hold of, allowing us to grasp God’s promises with our bodies as well as our minds” (pp. 192, 193).

Our gracious God engages all our senses: He invites us to listen attentively to his Word; to feel the cleansing baptism water flow over us; to smell, taste, and see his goodness through the Lord’s Supper. It’s as though he’s eager for us to “get it.” It thus seems counterintuitive to suggest that we should be skimpy with any of these modes of communication, particularly with the Lord’s Supper. What better way for us to “get it,” to better grasp God’s grace than by frequently availing ourselves to the Sacrament?

Writer and pastor Thea Nyhoff Leunk makes this warm observation in A Place at the Table, her book on welcoming children to the Lord’s Supper: “The Lord delights in nourishing His people, and we respond by coming with grateful, but empty hearts to His bountiful table” (p. 18).

I for one would be grateful to experience more often God’s delight in nourishing me at his bountiful table. So I am grateful that the elders of Trinity CRC have decided to increase the frequency we celebrate the Sacrament as 2018 progresses and I look forward to seeing and hearing (and maybe even smelling, tasting, and feeling) how God will bless that decision in our congregation.

Lord's Supper graphic found at thebanner.org

The leadership at Trinity CRC found this article in The Banner
on weekly Communion helpful in our conversation on the subject.
See also my blog post titled
“Physical.”

Encountering Jesus at his table more frequently (part 2)

So what’s stopping us from inviting Jesus to open our eyes by gathering around the Lord’s Supper table more frequently?

Some worry that celebrating the Lord’s Supper more frequently will diminish the preaching of the Word. While it is conceivable that the Lord's Supper graphic found via Googlependulum could swing the other way where the table pushes the pulpit off of center stage, churches I’m aware of in the Reformed tradition that celebrate the Lord’s Supper more frequently still have faithful preaching. I do not see coming to the table more often as a threat to our historic and enduring emphasis on the centrality of Scripture. If anything, I’d suspect that more frequent participation in the Sacrament will actually help the congregation more deeply comprehend and embrace the Word.

A more common fear I encounter is that the Sacrament will become less special if we celebrate it more frequently. I have two responses to that: First, part of me wonders if that actually wouldn’t be such a bad thing. There is, after all, something very ordinary, very common about the Lord’s Supper. As William H. Willimon observes in his book Sunday Dinner, Jesus specializes in “taking the stuff of everyday life … and using them to help us see the presence of God in our midst” (p. 25). Have we made the elements of the Lord’s Supper “too special,” leading us to think we require “special things” in order to encounter God?

Second, it occurs to me that doing something frequently does not automatically make it less meaningful. The late Harry Boonstra expresses this in a memorable way in the winter 1997 issue of Calvin Theological Seminary’s Forum: “It’s strange that we use this argument about the Lord’s Supper [that increased frequency will make it less meaningful] and not about preaching or praying or singing… It certainly is possible to pray or to sing thoughtlessly and carelessly. But the solution is not to sing less frequently … but to sing with conviction and devotion.” Both the Word and the Sacrament are means of grace God uses to bring his Gospel message to us, yet no one argues we should hear less preaching of the Word for fear it’s becoming less meaningful. (Frankly, between hearing a sermon or joining others for a meal, I’d probably tire less quickly of the latter than the former!)

Think about how we need to eat healthy food throughout the day – typically three meals with additional beverages and snacks in between. Sometimes these are memorable occasions; most often they are routine. Regardless, we eat and drink because our physical bodies need the nutrition. It turns out that our spiritual life “needs feeding and nourishment just as much as our physical life,” as Howard Vanderwell observes in Living and Loving Life, and “much of that kind of nourishment comes from the Lord’s table… Speaking of our need of such nourishment, John Calvin said, ‘Our faith is slight and feeble and unless it be propped on all sides and sustained by every means, it trembles, wavers, totters, and at last gives way.’

“And so we come to the table: A 72-year-old woman with all her struggles, a young father trying to find balance in life, an 80-year-old still vibrant and eager to be nourished, a teen whose faith is growing, and an 8-year-old boy who knows for sure that Jesus loves him” (p. 71; the quote from Calvin comes from his Institutes of the Christian Religion 4.14.3). They all come (as do I) needing this very ordinary yet also very good food to sustain our spiritual lives.

The advantages of celebrating the Lord’s Supper more frequently outweigh any disadvantages. Why are we content with depriving ourselves or our children or new, freshly baptized believers of the nourishment God longs to give us?

Encountering Jesus at his table more frequently (part 1)

The story of Jesus’ post-resurrection encounter with the disciples on their way to Emmaus is one of my favorite Gospel stories. It begins with despair and ends with joy. It fills me with hope to see Jesus patiently, graciously walking with people even when they’re going in the wrong direction. It’s a story that speaks directly to my heart.

There’s a part of the story, however, that challenges part of my Reformed convictions. Each time I read it, I wonder, “Why don’t the Graphic found with Googledisciples recognize Jesus until he breaks bread?” Christ walking alongside them, Christ rebuking them, Christ opening Scripture to them… At none of those points does Jesus open their eyes. Rather, it’s the table that becomes the place of recognition. My Reformed heritage emphasizes the supremacy of the Word – and rightly so, in my humble opinion. Our belief in the authority of Scripture is evident in our teaching and even in how the pulpit is front and center in most churches in the Reformed tradition. Yet the eyes of the disciples in Emmaus are not opened by the explanation of the authoritative Word (by the Word made flesh, no less!) but by the breaking of the bread.

Sometimes an unfortunate byproduct of our appropriate emphasis on the Word (which Reformed Christians tend to capitalize) can be the relegation of the Sacraments (which, interestingly, Reformed Christians tend to keep in lowercase) to the sidelines, as though they are something kind of optional, to save for occasional use. I think the story of the disciples in Emmaus challenges that perception. I think this story can form part of the case for recognizing how the Sacraments are as important as the Word. The diploma hanging on my wall, after all, declares I am a minister of “the Word and Sacraments” (and both words are capitalized on my diploma).

If we insist on hearing the Word weekly, why do we not have the same insistence on receiving the Sacrament?

There is certainly precedent for this. In Acts we read how the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” something the church consistently did “on the first day of the week” for many centuries as far as we know. Although people (at least the laity) celebrated the Lord’s Supper much less frequently by the time of the Reformation (sometimes as seldom as once a year), both Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated for weekly Lord’s Supper celebrations. Fast forward to today and it turns out that celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly is the pattern for the majority of Christians around the world and across denominational lines.

One can also make a case for more frequently celebrations of the Lord’s Supper on the basis of Reformed theology. The Belgic Confession has a great line where it speaks of how God uses the Sacraments “to represent better[!] to our external senses both what God enables us to understand by the Word and what He does inwardly in our hearts” (article 33). God knows we are physical beings so he uses physical things (the bread and juice of the Lord’s Supper as well as the water of baptism) to communicate his grace to his people. Yes, our ears and eyes need to receive God’s Word – it has the power to make “our hearts burn within us.” But God also desires to communicate his grace to us through our senses of touch, smell, and taste as we feel the water of baptism, handle the bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper, catch a whiff of its smells, and taste the elements in our mouths. Countless times since that evening in Emmaus, Jesus uses the breaking of bread to open our eyes and speak to our hearts that we may recognize him with us.

What’s stopping us from inviting Jesus to open our eyes and speak to our hearts by gathering around the Lord’s Supper table more frequently?

The time-traveling part of the worship service

I love mind-bending time travel stories. Some of my favorite episodes of Star Trek use the time travel plot device. I’m fascinated by how messages were sent through time in the movie Interstellar. And I’m just a sucker for the Back to the Future trilogy.

Doc Brown and Marty McFly watch the Delorian disappear into the future in Back to the Future

You can only imagine how excited I was to realize that there’s a point in a worship service where it feels like I do some time traveling.

Each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper (a.k.a. Communion or the Eucharist), I feel I’m being brought back to the past. As we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we re-enact the last supper that Jesus shared with His disciples before His death. The words and actions resonate through history: “This is my body… This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins…” Through our eating and drinking, we symbolically proclaim “the Lord’s death.”

I need to add, however, that we proclaim the Lord’s death “until He comes,” to finish the apostle Paul’s quote. There is a future aspect to celebrating the Lord’s Supper in that it helps us look forward to gathering around the table of the feast of the Lamb in the new heaven and the new earth. Speaking symbolically, Jesus Himself said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” The Lord’s Supper takes us not only to the past, but also creates anticipation within us for the future as it gives us a foretaste of it.

Finally, the Lord’s Supper helps us recognize God’s work in us and the church in the present. It unites us to fellow Christians throughout the world who hold to the faith. What’s more, through it the Holy Spirit does something within each believer personally. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that “as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely He nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with His crucified body and poured-out blood” (Lord’s Day 28 Q&A 75). Notice the present tense: Through the Lord’s Supper, Jesus Stained glass window at St Michael the Archangel Church, Findlay, OH; from the Wikipedia entry on Eucharist“nourishes and refreshes my soul.” It is a means of grace that not only connects us with the past and creates anticipation for future but also blesses us in the present.

The past, present, and future come together when I gather with my church family around the Lord’s table. It’s a moment in eternity (and perhaps eternity in a moment) filled with richness and grace.

Invited (part 2)

Talking about inviting children to the Lord’s table, people sometimes turn to the apostle Paul’s commands to the church in Corinth and ask, Can children “examine themselves” while “discerning the body of Christ?” If not, will they be partaking “in an unworthy manner” andGraphic from A Place at the Table by Thea Leunk “eating and drinking judgment on themselves?”

Thorough explanations of the context and meaning of 1 Corinthians 11 include one by Calvin Seminary’s Professor of New Testament, Jeffrey A.D. Weima, in The Forum (scroll down to the Spring 2007 edition). All I’ll highlight for now are two things (both from the Faith Formation Committee’s report in the CRC’s Agenda for Synod 2011, pp. 582ff): 1. Like all of God’s directives, these commands are not meant to be a source of anxiety and legalism; instead these commands are meant to be life-giving! Obeying them brings joy, integrity, and justice. 2. The context of Paul’s commands in 1 Corinthians 11 reveals how rich members of the Corinthian church were celebrating the supper in a way that excluded and humiliated their poorer fellow believers. Paul’s instruction to “eat together” – or to “wait for one another” (v. 33, NRSV) – still encourages us today to wait for, welcome, and receive fellow members of “the body of Christ” (v. 29) so we can all celebrate together around the table.

Paul’s warning to the Corinthians prompts us to ask how well we discern the body today. As in Paul’s time, barriers between believers continue to persist based on economic factors: Many sisters and brothers in Christ who struggle with poverty sadly find a warmer reception at a soup kitchen than a worship service. Other members of God’s family who sometimes feel isolated on the margins include adult singles, persons with disabilities or mental illness, people who have gone through divorce, ex-offenders, and many others. Perhaps children can be added to list: Do they feel like second-class citizens when, despite being told they are covenant children of God, they only get a whiff of the aroma of bread and juice while the nearby adults fully “taste and see” that God is good? Is this a life-giving way for the body of Christ to embrace and obey these commands?

Still, we must not neglect the call to examine ourselves and the warning not to partake in an unworthy manner. Can children do this? In thinking about this, I find the Heidelberg Catechism helpful at Lord’s Day 30 (which is grounded in 1 Corinthians 11):

Q. Who should come to the Lord’s table?
A. Those who are displeased with themselves because of their sins, but who nevertheless trust that their sins are pardoned and that their remaining weakness is covered by the suffering and death of Christ, and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to lead a better life. Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however, eat and drink judgment on themselves.
(Q&A 81)

If there’s one thing we cannot accuse children of, it’s being hypocritical! Young children don’t do pretense; generally speaking, they are without guile. Just ask the embarrassed parent whose child said, “Daddy & Mommy like to sleep in on Sundays” after the minister commented on not seeing the family for a few weeks! It’s not until we’re older that we become skilled at hiding the discrepancies between what we say and do. In sum, we should sign up children if we’re looking for role models on being un-hypocritical.

Thinking about not being unrepentant, one of the first things parents teach children (especially when they have siblings) is to say “Sorry.” And often within minutes of the apology, the behavior has been corrected and they’re off playing again. If only I was as quick at offering apologies and then not stewing over the situation for a long time afterwards! And because they’re at a stage where they typically mean what they say, when they ask God to forgive their sins and help to do good things, I cannot help but trust they are being completely sincere. If only I was as childlike at examining myself and receiving God’s grace! Again, children can also serve as role models for not being unrepentant.

The catechism further says that those who “trust that their sins are pardoned … by the death of Christ” are welcomed to the Lord’s table. We speak of childlike faith, of childlike trust. When I invite my child to jump into my arms, they do not pause to consider whether I’ll actually catch them or I’m just playing a cruel joke. They just jump, whether it’s into my arms or into accepting the reality that Jesus died for them. So, again, I see children serving us as role models what it means to truly trust in God without fear or second guessing His grace.

Jesus welcomed children and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” I don’t know whether Jesus specifically had the sacraments in mind when He said this, but we nevertheless often quote this when we baptize infants. In the same spirit, I apply Jesus’ posture and words to the Lord’s Supper, too. Not only do children belong at the table, but adults can even learn from children as the children learn from the adults.

Graphic from the cover of A Place at the Table by Thea Leunk.

Invited

Like all good fathers, our heavenly Father seeks to nourish His children. He feeds us with His Word and feeds us with the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In the Reformed tradition, both the Word and the sacraments remind our brains and prove to our senses (hearing, seeing, tasting) that God is gracious.

This is a reminder and a proof that all God’s children regularly need, which is why I’m personally thrilled the Christian Reformed Church has begun welcoming all baptized members (including children) to the Lord’s table. One could argue that excluding God’s younger children from the Kids feet (picture found via Google)table is akin to excluding family members from Thanksgiving dinner based on their age.

By welcoming children to the Lord’s Supper, I see us correcting two unfortunate double standards that have become part of our tradition. The first is rooted in a faulty division between the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We invite parents to bring their children forward to be baptized not because the children understand or deserve it, but because God has graciously made them part of His covenant family. I love these lines our baptism liturgy:

For you Jesus Christ came into the world;
for you He died; and for you He conquered death.
All this He did for you, little one,
though you know nothing of it as yet.
We love because God first loved us.

It seems inconsistent, then, that we demand a particular level of theological understanding for these same children to partake of the Lord’s Supper – a level they cannot achieve until they are older. Does this not fuel the belief that one ought to be smart enough or worthy enough to partake – a fallacy that those who are in Christ ought to vehemently reject? We all gather around the table on the same basis that we gather around the baptismal font – that, out of sheer grace, our loving heavenly Father includes us in His family and cares for our wellbeing and growth. We gather around the table not because we are worthy, but because we are in Christ, who alone is worthy!

In short, I am sympathetic with the assertion that we’ve either got stop baptizing children or we’ve got to start welcoming them to the table. If our children are part of the family, then let’s make sure they (and we) know it at the table.

The second double standard I see corrected by welcoming children to the Lord’s Supper is rooted in a faulty perception that Word and sacrament are fundamentally different. As I mentioned, God uses both the Word and sacraments to communicate His grace to us. We have no trouble inviting (expecting, even) children to be present at the reading and preaching of the Word, despite the reality that a lot of what is said goes right over their heads. Yet we do not fear any judgment they may face by being listeners but not doers of the Word. We do not wait until children are old enough to hear the words of Jesus and put them into practice like adults can before we expose them to the Word. If we welcome our covenant children to hear the Word and receive God’s grace through it, why would we prevent them from approaching the table to receive another means of grace? On the contrary, it is biblical and logical to invite children to be fed by the living Word – not only via the Bible but also Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh, at His table.

Yes, there is indeed something very special about the Lord’s Supper that we cannot lose sight of: Among numerous things, it is a memorial of Christ, evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit, a symbol of the unity of the church in all times and places, and a preview of God’s coming Kingdom. But there is also something very ordinary about the Lord’s Supper – we eat and we drink, something we do every day. It’s just as ordinary as listening to the Word. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say: It’s just as extraordinary as listening to the Word. And both are for all God’s covenant children.

I found a couple messages by Pastor Art Verboon of Maranatha CRC Edmonton to be very insightful and helpful in thinking about all this. You can access them here – just scroll down to June 2012 and listen to “This is the Blood of the Covenant” based on Exodus 24 and “Trouble at the Table” based on 1 Corinthians 11.

Hungry

When I miss a meal, I can tell. (When my hunger starts making me cranky, then everyone else can tell, too!) It’s pretty important for me to have breakfast, lunch, and supper each day for my body to function properly.

There’s a corollary between eating meals around our kitchen tables and eating the Lord’s Supper around the Lord’s Table. We need this holy meal not only to remember that Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross for you and for me, but also to allow the Holy Spirit to feed us with the resurrection life of Jesus (to paraphrase “Our World Belongs to God” ¶38). The church needs to eat this meal for the body (of Christ) to function properly.

Historically in the Christian Reformed Church, congregations gathered around the Lord’s Table only four to six times or so a year, and this is still the practice in some places. I cannot help but wonder whether such infrequent partaking deprives our faith similar to how Lord's Supper (picture found via Google)putting too much space between breakfast and supper can be detrimental to our day.

I have heard the suggestion that celebrating the Lord’s Supper too often may make it less meaningful. However, as a study committee of the CRC once stated, “that more frequent Communion diminishes its impact is a weak argument. That seems to be an argument against weekly preaching and even against worship itself.”* If more frequent partaking threatens the meaningfulness of the Lord’s Supper, how come no one worries about the frequency (weekly, often twice!) of preaching? (One would think people would rather err on the side of eating too often rather than listening to too many sermons!)

I thought of this afresh after reading a few paragraphs in William H. Willimon’s cleverly-titled book Sunday Dinner: Sunday Dinner by William H WillimonThe Lord’s Supper and the Christian Life

How often should our church have the Lord’s Supper? We might better ask, How often should we eat? We usually eat three meals a day. Admittedly, not all of our daily meals are special or full of significance. Some are, some are not. But that is not the point. We eat regularly, even routinely, ritualistically, because we need these gifts to live. The Lord’s Supper is the normal food for Christians. Sometimes the service is special and significant for us. Sometimes it is not. But whether a service strikes you as deeply moving or as routine, the important thing is that you are fed.

We might respond to the question, How often should our church have the Lord’s Supper? by asking, How often should we commune with the risen Christ? Is once every three months enough? Hardly. Friendship takes time, commitment, risk, frequent meetings. The more you get together, the more you grow together. Sometimes your gathering with a friend can be invigorating, inspiring, and full of significance. Sometimes it will be a cup of coffee, a little idle talk, and nothing more. But the important thing was that you met. You got together. You provided the opportunity for a deep encounter. You took time…

If we are going to grow and mature in our relationship with Christ, if we are to meet this Truth as He must be met, then all of us must keep at it on a regular basis. A lifelong series of big and little, significant and commonplace rhythm of meetings at the meal is required. (pp. 99-100)

Coincidentally (or providentially!) I happened to be listening to “Hungry” by Kathryn Scott while I was typing this. If we know Jesus is the One who satisfies our hunger, why don’t we eat at His table more often than we do?


*This is from a 1997 report by the CRC’s Committee to Study Worship titled “Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture.” It’s out of print, but can
still be purchased or else found as part the CRC’s Agenda for Synod 1997 beginning at p. 93.

Welcoming guests

Each Sunday we welcome guests who are spending time with us at Trinity CRC. I prefer saying guests rather than visitors. (And don’t get me started about referring to new people as strangers as I once heard a pastor do!) You might be tempted to say this is just semantics – that we’re talking about the same thing, so don’t make a big deal about it. I disagree.

Although similar, the definitions of guest and visitor do have Beyond the First Visit by Gary L McIntoshsome differences. Gary McIntosh explains those differences in Beyond the First Visit:

Visitors are often unwanted; guests are expected. Visitors just show up; guests are invited. Visitors are expected to leave; guests are expected to stay. Visitors come one time; guests return again.

How many jokes are out there about your mother-in-law coming for a visit? The jokes don’t work (at least not as well) if you refer to the woman as a guest. (Just for the record and in case my wife’s mom is reading: I don’t get mother-in-law jokes.)

Just for the record and in case my wife’s mom is reading: I don’t get mother-in-law jokes.

Unless you specifically indicate otherwise by prefacing it with the adjective unwelcome, a guest is typically someone you’re happy to have in your home. Even if they arrive unexpectedly, we are happy to extend hospitality to guests.

If in the newspaper or on the sign out front or on our church’s website we invite people to check out our church, should anyone be seen as showing up unexpectedly? More to the point, if a new person shows up to a Sunday worship service, are we genuinely happy to see them? If not, then I suppose it doesn’t matter whether we think of them as visitors or even strangers.

Just don’t hold your breath for them to come back.

All this reminds me of how the word guest appears in a reading I sometimes use when leading a celebration of the Lord’s Supper:

[Jesus] was always the guest.
In the homes of Peter and Jairus,
Martha and Mary,
Joanna and Susanna,
he was always the guest.
At the meal tables of the wealthy
where he pled the case of the poor,
he was always the guest.
Upsetting polite company,
befriending isolated people,
welcoming the stranger,
he was always the guest.

But here, at this table,
he is the host.

Those who wish to serve him
must first be served by him;
those who want to follow him
must first be fed by him;
those who would wash his feet
must first let him make them clean.
For this is the table
where God intends us to be nourished;
this is the time
when Christ can make us new.

So come, you who hunger and thirst
for a deeper faith,
for a better life,
for a fairer world.
Jesus Christ,
who has sat at our tables,
now invites us to be guests at his.

In our churches on Sundays, we’re a bit like Jesus: We have the privilege to graciously and humbly serve as hosts for new people who walk through the door. Yet we are all guests, appearing at God’s gracious call to worship. And if each one of us is a guest on Sunday mornings, in a lot of ways it doesn’t make a big difference whether we’re showing up for the first or thousand-and-first time.

Lord's Supper


The quote from
Beyond the First Visit appears in this insightful blog. The Lord’s Supper reading originally appeared in A Wee Worship Book by the Wild Goose Resource Group; I found it in The Worship Sourcebook by Faith Alive Christian Resources (a second edition has just been published). I found the cartoon and Lord’s Supper graphic via Google.

A matter of time

Star Trek Time Travel Fan CollectiveA few weeks ago I bought the Star Trek: Time Travel Fan Collective.  It’s a collection of Star Trek shows from the different series that features tales of our Starfleet heroes going forwards and/or backwards through time.

The concept of time travel has always intrigued me.  I have awoken on more than one occasion from dreaming of going back to my high school or university days with knowledge of 2011…  Would I change anything?  Or would I make sure to leave everything the way it was?  I wonder, if you were given a time machine, would you visit the future or relive November 5, 1955?

Sometimes I think that the Word and Sacraments make time travel possible.  The Bible tells me what God has done in the past, who I am in the present, and the hope God’s people have for the future.  I exist in a continuum, blessed by those who have gone before and confident of God’s help and strength in the future.  Similar with the sacraments: Baptism gives us a picture of having died and been raised with Christ in the past, of Jesus washing us clean and renewing us for service in the present, and of us crossing the river into glory in the new heaven and new earth.  And the Lord’s Supper is a memorial of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross in the past, a means by which the Holy Spirit nourishes us in the present, and a foretaste of the wedding banquet of the Lamb in the future.

Last but not least, the Word and Sacraments remind me of how God holds the past (which I cannot change) and the future (which I cannot predict) in His hands, freeing me and equipping me to serve Him with all I’ve got here and now.

PS: If you know why I chose November 5, 1955, let me know… We can be geeks together!