Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Then the officers uncovered the elements and I divided the wafers (which were all in one serving dish) into the two platters, set the platters on the top of the juice serving trays and prepared to give them to those who would be serving them.
Then, the unthinkable happened. I had a stack in each hand and the plate of wafers started slipping off the tray of juices in my right hand. The deacon did not notice it and my other hand was full. I tried to set the stack back on the communion table, but the tray had slid off and clattered onto the floor, upside down. I had just dropped the broken body of Jesus on the floor!
I set the trays back on the table, picked up the upside-down tray from the floor, divided the wafers that were in the other tray in half and put half into the picked up tray, and then passed the stacks, one-by-one, with two hands, to the servers.
Once the servers were headed down the aisles, I dropped to my knees, and with the other ministers, picked up the broken pieces with humility and contrition, placed them into the inverted lid from the wine-serving container and resumed my place behind the table while one of the other ministers took the pieces reverently to the kitchen and disposed of them.
Upon reflection, this is a lot like life situations. We make mistakes. Even big ones that appear to trash Jesus and our testimonies. But life must go on. We must confess with humility and contrition on our knees, but then, we get up and make the best of what is left of our lives.
I mustn't let the one mistake in the past determine the course of the rest of my future. Yes, it was bad. If we were Roman Catholic, it would have caused a major ordeal, because of their doctrine of transubstantiation. (After the blessing, the wafers become the real flesh of Christ, not just a symbol.) So I can count my blessings that I am a Protestant and only made a symbolic error.
I could spend days trying to figure out what went wrong. Was one of the wine-cups too high, keeping the tray from being level? A manufacturing defect I could sue them for? Was the server at fault for not being ready to take the serving trays from my hands. Should I not have tried to hold the stacks in one hand? Was there something on the bottom of the tray that made it uneven? Et cetera, et cetera, etc.
Maybe that paragraph was written to try to take the blame away from myself and find someone else I could blame for it.
But it happened and I was a participant, so I must accept my share of the blame. But it is over. It is behind me. I must not let it continue to affect my thoughts and my life, except for trying to learn life's lesson for the next time.
Then I must realize the effect this mistake had on the other ministers and the congregation, and try to be the best example of confessing and repenting I can be. And then moving on. Really believing Romans 8:28, that God will work it all together for good. Really trusting. And moving on.
That means there is a purpose for the mistakes, a reason behind it all, even if all I can see now is "through a glass darkly." Some day, I will see "face to face." (I Corinthians 13:12)
Life, after all, goes on. It must go on.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Last night, after the Bible study, I was asked a question about why it is taking so long to read through one letter of six chapters. It is a good question. :)
My answer had many parts. The first is that we aren't just studying the one book. For example, last night, we referenced chapters in Genesis, II Timothy and Galatians, in addition to the passage in Ephesians 5. In fact, we are looking at the whole Bible from the perspective of the letter to the Ephesians.
In order to understand the letter, we need to know the mindset of the Apostle who wrote it. Since he was Jewish, his background understanding is that of the Old Testament. So we need to read some of the concepts of the Old Testament to understand what he is saying.
The second part of my answer is that many of the Bible study members are hoping to improve their English language skills, as well as their Bible knowledge. Every week we examine several English words that occur in the text we are studying. This practice improves our English vocabulary, as well as our Bible knowledge.