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Rich or Routine

Most people like to eat, but there is some concern these days about preservatives being used in foods. One man said, "I'm not against using some preservatives in food. What I'm against is any loaf of bread with a greater life expectancy than my own." What if you knew about a type of bread that would extend your own life expectancy, eternally?! In John 6:32-33 Jesus metaphorically describes and refers to Himself as "the true bread of life. . . who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world." He goes on to promise, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" and "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (w 35, 51). The words sound strange, but careful examination reveals Jesus is describing the close and vital relationship His disciples maintain with Him through faith and obedience since His death, burial, and resurrection from the grave. As physical food sustains the body, so Jesus sustains the soul.

In 1 Corinthians 11:20ff the apostle Paul gives instructions about the Lord's Supper and affirms he received them "from the Lord" (vs 23a). He recalls the origin of the Lord's Supper as Jesus ate with His disciples "on the same night in which He was betrayed" (vs 23b). Paul quotes Jesus as saying the bread and cup are to be consumed "in remembrance of Me" (vs 23b, 24b). The Lord's Supper is not an ordinary meal that sustains the body. It is rather a memorial meal observed every Lord's Day by the church. Far from being routine, it is a religious ritual infused with rich meaning. It's specific design is to help us remember something we might tend to forget without the aid of the bread and cup of the Lord's Supper. The words of Jesus tell us exactly what that something is — "the bread is My body which is broken for you" (vs 24) and "the cup is the new covenant in My blood" (vs 25). If we properly observe the ritual of the Lord's Supper, our minds and hearts "go back to the cross" where Jesus laid down His life to save us from sin. A rich ritual indeed! A ritual we must not allow to become routine, even though observed every first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Since April 6, 1948, the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery has been guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — in blazing summer sun, in driving rains, or in freezing winter snows — by dedicated members of the 3rd United States Infantry, headquartered out of Fort Myer, Virginia. They faithfully pace 21 steps back and forth on the west face of the Tomb. Their's is a time-honored ritual, executed with precision and a sacred-like diligence, aimed at keeping alive the memory of soldiers who gave their lives for freedom's cause. In the Lord's Supper, Christians have their own ritual, aimed at keeping alive the memory, not of soldiers who died, but of a Savior who died but now lives. Whether the ritual is rich or routine depends on each of us.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ