Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sensible signs

Shannon has been reading Nine Months to a Miracle by Mari Hanes, a devotional book for expectant mothers. She shared this excerpt with me. Hanes writes:

Many of us have received the Lord's Supper regularly since childhood. This month, allow your Father to open your eyes to a new understanding of communion, for this powerful symbol of Christ's death and resurrection is especially meaningful to the woman in waiting and her developing child.

For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are representing and signifying and proclaiming the fact of the Lord's death [and resurrection] until he comes [again] (1 Corinthians 11:26 AMP).

The true meaning of communion is the proclamation of the resurrection power! When received with understanding, it can be a dynamic instrument of physical and emotional health for the believer. First Corinthians 11:30 even goes so far as to tell us that some early Christians suffered weakness and illness because they didn't perceive the tremendous significance of communion.

Think of this truth as it applies to your baby. You are already well aware that everything that enters your system travels through the placenta and into the child's system. This is why a balanced diet is so crucial and why you must be cautious of even the mildest medication. When you receive the bread and juice of communion, some of the digested molecules literally become a part of the baby, proclaiming the fact of the Lord's resurrection power, the fact of His wholeness, to the body of the little one!

For the woman who bears a new life within her, the celebration of communion becomes much more than ceremony or tradition. In a very tangible way, you are sharing your faith in the reality of God's love with the little one growing inside you.

I think that's pretty neat, though I wouldn't push the theological implications of that last sentence too far. I'm reminded, though, that when our Savior instituted the Lord's Supper he did it using what the Westminster Catechism calls "sensible signs" -- meaning signs that we can apprehend with our senses. Scripture tells us that the Christian life is a life of faith. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb. 12:1) Usually that means walking "by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7) But in the sacrament Jesus gives us bread and wine (or juice!) -- sensible signs that we can see, touch and taste to bolster our weak faith. It's the invisible reality made visible, the spiritual made physical. What could be more physical than eating, drinking, chewing, swallowing and digesting? Jesus words in John 6 sound as shocking today as they did to his original hearers: "Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

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