Saturday, January 9, 2016

Worship 2016



This is how we finished out our Christmas Eve service at Northstar Church in Knoxville, Tn. It was so the Lord. A month ago, I began to really wonder if I'd really listened to the Lord as I sought Him for my 2015 Word of the Year ... Communion. Because from July to December ... I hardly gave  it a thought. I spoke the words "I've really not done communion justice in the second half of the year." To which my dear friend replied, "I'm not sure it was yours to do justice to in the first place." And at that realization ... that my Word of the Year is about Him doing a work in me, not my working out the Word He's given ... He showed me how Communion had woven it's way through out moments and minutes and days and months through this year.


com·mun·ion
kəˈmyo͞onyən/
noun
  1. 1
    the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
    "in this churchyard communion with the dead was almost palpable"
  2. 2
    the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.
    synonyms:the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, Mass
    "the breaking of the bread during Communion"
In January, I took a very literal approach to Communion.  I found a cute carafe with a cork, some neat little cups in a wooden box ... filled it with wine and set it out on a table my son gave me for Christmas next to a candle called Northern Lights ... and every night I was intentional about taking communion. By mid-February I realized that it had become routine and so I abandoned the everyday communion idea. February and March were full of intensely difficult and intimate conversations that left my heart reeling and begging for relief. Communion had happened as the Lord filled my mouth and enabled me to speak the very words that laid my most precious human relationship squarely on the alter and forced me to take my hands off of it. But, all of a sudden, Communion felt risky and dangerous.

But isn't that the Truth of Holy Communion ... 
it represents the most risky and dangerous prospect of all ...
The God of the Universe allowed His own Son
to come to earth and become fully man
and die on the Cross for the gift of Salvation 
that many, many reject ... and He knew they would.
Yet He took His hands off
and permitted it to happen?
It was risky because when you 
have communion with 
someone you love ... even the most brief of separations 
is difficult. But when you know that they are enduring
hell ... the tearing apart of your heart is almost 
too much to bear. 

We know that experientially, don't we?

On Christmas Eve, there were still places that were guarded from full communion in a couple of areas of my life. As we sang that night ... my heart was so inclined toward Mary and her not so Silent Night. I wondered if as she felt Jesus' birth nearing if she wanted to guard her own heart, somehow knowing what was to come ... and yet because the mother/son bond is so incredibly intense ... was helplessly in love the moment He breathed in humanity and let out a cry for the whole world?

Communion at it's most raw, naked, exposed moment. When your heart is unable to resist what it yearns for and fears most become one.

It was during our corporate Communion that the Lord washed over me a peace ... a Joy, Unspeakable Joy ... realizing that every new thing requires an exchange. If I was going to grasp my new life, I was going to have to lay my own dreams and expectations aside. And so as I waited in the front row for everyone to file ... I confessed that I really wanted life to turn out differently than it is right now. I wanted to go back ... to simpler, busier, fuller days. Days where I understood my role and my purpose. The past two years have been full of wrestling against what the Lord has permitted. I swung precariously on a pendulum of resisting communion that I longed for ... the intimate exchange of thoughts and feelings with ones I love ... and grappling at it desperately like I was wrestling a greased pig! I was exhausted. My knees were worn, and my heart was weary. I could stand before the Lord knowing I had done what He called me to do ... but it had taken a toll. And I realized as I sat in a moment of reflection that I was just a little bitter that I'd done my part and I didn't see where God had done His. And so ... once again, I laid down my dreams, expectations, hopes and the fear that what He had planned wouldn't be as good.

Whew ... I guess that's why we had to sit in the front row ... I had a lot to talk to the Lord about before my heart was ready to come to the Table.

I left ... resolved and at peace. Still not knowing many things.

Christmas Eve with the most precious of friends ... laughter, good food ... joy ... communion ... wrapped up our evening.

And as morning came ... the Lord began to unfold a gift ... confirmation that the past two years of praying and weeping were not in vain ... He kept His promise to restore what the locust had eaten over the past two years ... those things only hours before that He had called me to place on the alter ...



A gift from my son that would lead my heart straight into my new word of 2016 ... worship.


So my question to myself was ... what do I need to lay on the alter to embrace Communion? What do you need to lay on the alter so you can come boldly before His Throne? Where are you growing weary? Do you see someone around you who is growing weary ... and how can you encourage them today? Will you allow Him to do His "today work" in your heart so that you can fully embrace what's coming next? 

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