A few years ago Rhonda and I went to a small pizza restaurant, not one we usually would go to. But someone had given us a gift card of $50. so we went. It was very crowded and a large group was right next to us. Our waiter was a young man covered with tattoos and sporting a scraggly beard he could barely grow. It was obvious he was new at this and was overwhelmed by his duties. He was not a good server and forgot us most of the night. I eventually got up and poured our own water When it came time to pay the bill I think he was expecting no tip are at best a bad tip. But Rhonda and I just gave him the card and said keep everything beyond the cost of the meal as a tip. It was probably $16. He grabbed my hand and thanked me profusely for the gift and began to cry. I simply said, “this was a gift to us, we are just sharing it with you.” No thanks was needed that evening.
This is how its supposed to work. Everything we have and are is a gift of God, a gift of God’s grace to us. Anything we give, anyone we forgive, anyone we help, anyone we bless, anyone we make room for in our lives is from the basic foundation of what God is so gracious to have given us. We just get to multiply those gifts, that mercy, that love into the lives of others. This is the center of the Church, a place where we are willing to give all that is away, risk what that means, multiplying the grace we experience as part of that faith community.
It is an amazing moment during the Lord’s Supper when a pastor stands, breaks the bread, lifts the cup, consecrates the elements, and offers them to everyone who is willing. For a Methodist Church, and many others, the sacrament of communion is the center of the Church. This is why in so many places of worship the communion table is in the middle, to remind us of the centrality of the amazing grace God offers to whosoever will. It is God’s generosity made real, made visible to those who receive it. It is a microcosm of what the Church is supposed to be. The Pastor, the Christian, nor the Church owns these elements. They are a gift of God. We just get to multiply them as we freely hand them out. It’s the life of the Church.
This post is not about Communion, its about the Church and grace, the Christian and grace, the idea that God places in the Church the privilege of multiplying what He has given the Church, given each Christian; a saving, life changing, and redeeming grace.
I did not own that $50 gift card, someone had graced it to me. It was fun and freeing to give a hunk of it to someone else. And that day three of us had a special experience with God; Rhonda, me, and a server. We had a choice to make, keep that for ourselves, punish the young man for his failures, feel self righteous because after all, we deserved better. It was in my control. But I had not forgotten where it came from and therefore had an obligation to be generous. The man who sent it to me in the mail did so because I had presided over the funeral of his young wife who had died suddenly. It was covered by his love for his sweet wife. What God gives us is stained by the blood of His only begotten Son, the love God has for all the people of this world, what He gives the church; the buildings, the programs, the people, everything about it is stained by that same graceful sacrifice.
I find that some Churches and pastors don’t fully get this. They seem to think the building, the program, the traditions, the style of worship, even the denomination, Etc. belongs to them. They have earned something, deserve something, own something. They hold on to it, resistant to change, resistant to give new new people a place, resistant to new ways to offer Christ, often unwilling to enter the fun and freedom of multiplying grace, multiplying the gifts God has given them so they could give it away to others, a world that needs Jesus.
The disciples, the early Christians, the early Church was willing to give away what they were and what God had so graciously given them; and they changed the world.
God give us success!