Wednesday 29th April

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Wednesday 29th April 2020

It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be,

That God’s own son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me

I cannot tell how he could love a child so weak and full of sin;

His love must be most wonderful if he could die my love to win.

(William Walsham How 1823-97)

Listen on YouTube to ‘How can I be free from sin lyrics’

Read Mark 14: 17-26

As well as spending time reading some ‘work related’ books, I am still working my way through Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about the life and times of King Henry 8th – they are big books - ‘Wolf Hall’ and the other two books go into detail describing everyday life in the time of the Tudors as well as the political intrigues of the royal court, which also means that these books describe the religious turmoil going on at that time across the whole of Europe – a time we now call the Reformation.

Peppered throughout these fictional books are discussions about whether it was right to translate the bible into English so anyone could read it, rather than continue with just the clergy reading the scriptures in Latin. There are also many occasions when the characters in these books discuss what Jesus really meant when he said that the bread is ‘his body’ and the wine ‘his blood’. The historical fact is that in the time of the Tudors, men did terrible thing to other men and women who disagreed with them about their answers to those questions and while the physical violence has stopped in most countries, these questions are still being asked today.

In these books of fiction based on facts, we have the main character Thomas Cromwell saying ‘if the people are able to read the bible in their own language, they will then know how to please God.’ This principle is what brought about in those times groups of believers who later became known as Baptists and this action - reading God’s word to discern how to live lives that please and glorify God is still at the heart of our all that we do today as a Baptist church.

Having taken up the great privilege of being able to read the bible in my own language, I am intrigued that we receive so little instruction about the way in which we should share bread and wine. The gospels only tell us about that first occasion when Jesus declared that bread and wine will enable us to remember his broken body and the blood which flowed from it. In the rest of the New Testament there is little indication about how to share the bread and wine, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us to examine out attitude and to consider our relationship with God before we eat and drink, but gives no instructions about the practicalities. It may surprise you to realise that the disciples never shared communion in a church building – such buildings didn’t exist in the lifetime of the apostles – the context in which they shared communion was usually in people’s homes.

Baptists, along with many, many more groups of Christians around the world understand today’s bible reading to mean that Jesus gives us emblems – visual aids - to help us remember the way through which we are seen as ‘righteous’ by God and so be a person where God’s Holy Spirit can dwell. Because God’s Spirit is with us 24/7 there is no reason for bread and wine to transform into Jesus’ actual flesh and blood, but these emblems are useful reminders of Jesus’ sacrifice - the means by which God opened up the way for us to have our sins are forgiven and enjoy the ever-present help of his Holy Spirit.

The sharing of bread and wine has been giving many titles - Mass, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper and Communion. For me it is always Communion, and for me communion is ‘a cross shaped word’ - there is vertical communion, me and God and there is horizontal communion me and my sisters and brother in Christ. For me to share communion I want both of those to be present, but since lock-down that has not been possible. A number of you have asked about trying to have a shared experience of communion, so I have given some thought to it.

God is always with us, the vertical part of my Communion-cross is there no matter where we are, but the closest we can come to that horizontal sharing of communion is by setting a particular day and time so that we can be aware that others are doing the same things at the same time as us. So I suggest you might want to do this at 11am on Sunday (3rd May). Jesus originally used bread and wine because they were readily available on the table in front of him, but perhaps they aren’t so readily available in your kitchen. So on Sunday if you want to take part at 11am have something with you which can use to remember the broken body of Jesus – if not bread, then crackers – or even a plain biscuit and have something red to drink (summer fruits squash, cranberry juice or even water with red food colouring). At 11am on Sunday read aloud 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26, then eat your emblem of the body of Christ and drink your emblem of the blood of Jesus before saying out loud the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps before 11am you could play the two songs I have suggested you listen to today.

Today - right now, use these lyric to lead you into a time of thanking God for Jesus’ sacrifice which bought us our salvation:

Such love, pure as the whitest snow; such love weeps for the shame I know;

Such love, paying the debt I owe; O Jesus, such love.

Such love, stilling my restlessness; such love, filling my emptiness;

Such love, showing me holiness; O Jesus, such love.

Such love springs from eternity; such love, streaming through history;

Such love, fountain of life to me; O Jesus, such Love.

Graham Kendrick © 1988 ThankYou Music

Listen to Youtube: ‘My heart is filled with thankfulness lyrics’

All the previous articles are now available on the ‘Archive’ page of the church website. Friday's 'guest writer’ will be Helen Winfield, I will write again on Sunday - Stephen

Page last updated: 30th April 2020 7:23 PM