Like we do every Sunday, this past week at church we took communion. This particular week, I was not up front leading worship, so I was holding one of my 2 ½ year old daughters as my husband handed me the wafer dipped in juice. As expected, my daughter asked, “What’s that?” (With two 2-year-olds around, this is the most commonly heard phrase in my house these days.)
I replied, “This is communion, this is how we celebrate what Jesus did for us. Remember how we talked about that Jesus died on the cross, and then rose again?”
I should point out here that previous times that we’ve talked about Jesus’ death and resurrection, it has not been a big spiritual moment. Both Thia and her twin sister, Mari, got stuck on the death part:
“No, Mama didn’t die, Jesus died and rose again.”
“No, Jesus died on the cross, like it talks about in our Bible. See, here’s a picture of Jesus on the cross, but he didn’t stay dead, He rose again.”
And that’s how the conversation continued until I realized that this just wasn’t going to happen today. I closed the conversation with “Jesus loves you so much,” and we were all content with that.
But this time at church, while she relatively quietly squirmed on my lap, I whispered the story to her again. “This represents Jesus’ body, and the juice represents his blood. He loved us so much that He died for us, so we could be right with God and have a relationship with Him. And He didn’t stay dead, He rose again. He defeated death.” And I found myself with tears in my eyes. Somehow, speaking those words to my daughter made them come alive for me in a way that they usually don’t. Isn’t it true that this story sometimes loses its impact on us? The absolute awe of what Jesus did. The miracle of it. The depth of the love that it took for him to choose death. It’s such a beautiful mystery that we celebrate in communion, and I am so often numb to it.
I had a similar experience talking with a close friend recently, exploring the question, “Why did God have to send Jesus?” Considering how much time I’ve spent in church, studying the Bible, teaching and being taught spiritual things, I found it surprisingly hard to come up with a quick answer – why did God have to send Jesus? So I found myself going back to the beginning. From the garden of Eden, to sin causing our broken relationship with God, to the law and God’s passionate desire for His people, and to the Israelites messing it up over and over. The new covenant was needed because the law didn’t work to bridge the gap. And JESUS was the answer, because God becoming man was the only way that God could die for us. Jesus was born of a virgin, outside of the inheritance of sin from Adam, and He made for us a way back into relationship with God the Father. And THEN, miracle of miracles, He sent the Holy Spirit so we could be with Him always.
As we were processing together through this huge cosmic story of what God has gone through to have a relationship with me, I was so moved by His compassion and love. I found myself in tears as I was blown away by how GOOD the news of the gospel is. This is truly the best news I’ve ever heard! Like, seriously!
Maybe it’s something about telling these stories to those who haven’t “signed on” yet that made it so real to me. Maybe that’s how revelation is unlocked sometimes, because, the good news was designed to be shared, right? And as the field of education has found, to teach others brings about a higher level of understanding, yes?
To be honest, evangelism hasn’t been that appealing to me in the past. I know we’re supposed to tell others about Jesus…ha, and the key words there are “supposed to.” That’s what it had been for me. Therefore, I really haven’t done it much at all, and felt pretty guilty about it sometimes. I do love Jesus, and have followed him pretty much my whole life, but I’ve only recently felt truly captivated by the story of who He was and why He came. And, ironically, I feel like that has flowed out of my talking about it. Huh. If you have told yourself that evangelism isn’t your gift, I have probably said that dozens of times. But I discovered something this year that wasn’t “evangelism” as I had known it.
God is really the kind of guy that chooses a miserable, dirty stable instead of a palace. Why?!? Why would God send his SON (someone you generally want to protect) into that complete mess, when He legitimately could have chosen pretty much anywhere? What kind of God is that anyway? Tell somebody that story this Christmas. Tell it in your own words, maybe to someone that doesn’t necessarily believe it. Maybe in the telling, a new revelation of His crazy, extravagant love will be unlocked.