Whenever Christians find out how Jehovah’s Witnesses practice their version of communion at the annual Memorial, they’re usually pretty shocked. “You mean no one eats the bread or drinks the wine?” That’s right. It’s only for the remnant of the 144,000. A very small number in relation to the 8 million Witnesses who claim an “earthly hope.” Most Kingdom Halls have no one at all who is “allowed” to partake that night. And so, bread and wine get passed from person to person with a very conscious decision not to partake. They are rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in favor of “Jehovah’s arrangement” set forth by the Watchtower Society.
I attended my last Memorial in 2002 or 2003. I’m not sure. But I do know when I first partook of the bread and wine with full understanding that the sacrifice Jesus made was for me. September 9, 2007 was a very joyous day and I’ve never stopped appreciating this remembrance ritual whether gathered with other believers at church or at home alone.
But is it a mere ritual? To some, perhaps. But communion has become a form of prayer for me. And as I contemplate with sadness the upcoming Memorial of 2018 in which Jehovah’s Witnesses will once again confirm their rejection of Jesus Christ, I’m reminded of the intimacy they will all miss out on and the lessons God taught me one sleepless night when I listened close to what His indwelling Spirit had to teach me.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Do you ever get agitated out of bed to pray? At times the Lord is specific and gives me a particular person or situation to pray about, but last night it was just one of those agitated awakenings. I just knew I needed to be in His Presence but without a specific prayer.
I crawled out of bed and went upstairs to my living room. As I pictured myself sitting on the couch alone without a prayer direction, the idea of communion came to mind. “That’s it,” I thought, “when is the last time outside of corporate church that I shared private communion with the Lord?” So I grabbed some bread and juice and sat down thankful to at least have a prayer focus now: communion.
As I sat in His Presence holding the bread, I thanked Him for the body broken for me. “I am part of this body” and began to thank Him for the diversity of His church … “thank you for the gentleness you displayed in… thank you for the warrior Spirit I can see in…” naming people I know in the body of Christ. He led me in prayer for each unique person and how together we display the WHOLE character of Christ. Tears formed as I thought about His mercy and love toward us all. I dabbed my eyes with the bread… “thank you for those who wipe away the tears” and I was blessed to think of the interchange of encouragement in the body of Christ. I was still holding the bread, marveling at the wholeness of it. Then my thoughts turned to people in the body of Christ who have hurt me deeply. “I know they’re part of your body Lord, but is it healthy to let them in?” I want to consume the bread of life. I want to participate in His divine nature. “Jesus, I want all of you!” But He has drawn my attention to this hesitation.
The bread is in my hand, all of us are represented there. If I am going to take in the one who has encouraged me, I also will consume the one who has hurt me. We are a body. Again, I ponder if it is healthy to allow those people a place in my life. This ritual is reminding me of how I already let their pain become my own. Had I never been vulnerable enough to love them, it would not hurt so much. I’m about to eat this bread, “Lord, is it good to allow the hurtful ones to fill me too?” I remember Paul’s words about how when one member suffers, we all suffer. We are one. We share one another’s pain but we also share one another’s joy. We are one. I’m aware that the body of Christ I’m about to consume is so imperfect. Then He directs my attention to the cup of forgiveness. This is the beauty of communion. We are one body, each of us struggling with our imperfection. I want so badly this cup of forgiveness for myself as I contemplate the blood represented in it. I am thirsty. He says “drink it and let it wash over your sins. As you do, let it wash over theirs too.” And He communes with me and there is more grace in my prayers for those I have struggled to forgive.
He loves us so much. He asks us to pray for our enemies, that’s why He doesn’t shield us from letting them into our lives where they become part of us. Those who have hurt you are part of your story. They challenge you to become more like Him, able to forgive. We are participating in His divine nature.
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:2-11)
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie