I guess I'll go ahead and start by breaking a cardinal blogging rule by explaining my absence.
A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Esther - one of my favorite writers and sister ENFP - tweeted something about how our personality type needs days that are "out to pasture." That's pretty accurate. I've taken a week or so out to pasture, I suppose. Of all of the extraverts, ENFPs are the ones who need the most recovery time following engagement with people, places, and things. I don't know why that is, it just is. As obligations, responsibilities, and activities have picked up in the 3D world, I've found I have little left for the keyboard.
I offer my most sincere apologies, especially for those who have been faithfully following along in the 40 Days of Community. I just . . . you know.
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This final week of focus in the 40 Days of Community examines a community of service.
I've given a lot of thought to this because, really, this what all of these aspects of community come down to in one way or another. Offering ourselves, our time, our lives, in service to others.
This kind of service to community goes far beyond becoming a member of a local service group or signing up for a service-oriented committee at church. This is a lifestyle.
And let's be honest - it can be exhausting.
I want to turn to the words of someone whom I've grown to admire in a way that is unapologetic fan girl: Jen Hatmaker. In her book Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith, she digs into some thoughts about Communion and what that looks like lived out.
She looks at Luke 22:13-16 and writes:
Jesus was seriously making a point with His statement in verse 15. In Greek, He literally said, "I have desired with desire to eat this Passover with you." Jesus was underscoring His great anticipation for this moment. He had been waiting, and this was it. This was monumental. He would become living theology to change the course of history. It was time to make old things brand spanking new.
In telling the disciples "This is My body. This is My blood," Jesus began to paint a clear picture of what it would take to follow after Him. Jen writes, "Jesus didn't just host and serve the meal; He became the meal." He would be broken for us, poured out for us, our redemption and our sanctification.
A moment later, He instructed His disciples to "do this in remembrance of me," making sure to use the present tense of the verb do. Keep on doing this.
So, wait. What? Keep on observing the Lord's Supper/Communion in remembrance of Him?
Well, yes. But more.
Jen points out that the Greek word for remembrance here is anamnesis - to make real. She writes, "Remembrance means honoring Jesus's mercy mission with tangible, physical action since it was a tangible, physical sacrifice. In other words, 'Constantly make this real.'"
I want for you to stop and think about that. Does that kind of blow your mind? This messes me up hugely.
There's more, and this is where it speaks to the idea of a community of service.
For those moments when you have given and served and poured out and are just absolutely drained, consider this from Jen as an explanation that encourages us to know that is when we are truly partnering with Christ:
Not only was Communion a symbolic ritual, but it was a new prototype of discipleship. "Continuously make my sacrifice real by doing this very thing." But what? What was the very thing Jesus was doing? He was becoming broken and poured out for hopeless people. He was becoming a living offering, denying Himself for the salvation and restoration of humanity . . . We don't simply remember the meal; we become the meal, too.
Remember how the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that "Now you are the body of Christ"?
Are the pieces fitting together yet?
THIS IS HUGE. Jen brings it home:
Why is it so exhausting to uphold someone's heavy, inconvenient burden? Why are you so spent from shouldering someone's grief or being an armor-bearer? What is it that lifting someone out of his or her rubble leaves you breathless? Because you are part of the body of Christ, broken and poured out, just like He was. Mercy has a cost: Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed.
Paul wrote to Galatia (you know, the ones a little preoccupied with The Law): "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (6:2) What did Jesus consider the most important of The Law? Love God, love others. And this is how: be willing to be broken, allow yourself to be poured out.
This, my sweet friends, this is the risk of community. This is why it's easier to portion out our time, to compartmentalize our lives so that we give of ourselves in bits and pieces.
But it's in the whole-self giving that we experience true communion with Christ. This is what it is to die to self and allow Christ to live through us. This is what it is to know that we must be grafted to The Vine in order to be sustained from day-to-day.
Does your heart just explode to know that on the days when serving your family has nearly done you in that you can know you have been making Communion real that day? And what about the tireless investment you have made in the life of a friend or neighbor - isn't it incredible to know that you are nourishing them with your brokenness?
Reading this insight from Jen ignited the transforming work of Christ within me. Does it still hurt to become the meal? Absolutely. But in the crushing, I know He is being made real in me. That is a mystery far too complex to explain and far too wonderful to resist.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this: Who in your life has been broken or poured out that you might know Christ? Who are you being broken for right now? What is service costing you? How are you experience Christ in the midst of the muddy work of community?