From the Pastor’s Desk – Feb 22, 2018

February 22, 2018

I want to say Happy Spring Break to all of you, but I know that in Canada we call it March Break for a reason!  As I write this it is grey, damp, -3 degrees, and dreary.   However, even though the weather has not been great, there is nevertheless good reason to have hope and to be rejuvenated.  Every year we offer three special services at the Carmel New Church to celebrate Easter and remember the Lord’s life on earth.

Palm Sunday comes first, where we carry up palm fronds to the chancel in procession and call to mind the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Next comes Good Friday, where we have a special evening adult Holy Supper and reflect upon the events leading up to the Lord’s passion on the Cross.  Lastly, on Easter Sunday we have a family service to joyfully celebrate the Lord’s resurrection and glorification by bringing floral and food offerings forward to the chancel.  For many of us this is one of the best Church weeks of the year!

In particular, I wanted to focus this brief article on the Thursday evening vespers Holy Supper at 7:00 p.m. on March 29th.   The idea behind this service is that a serene evening setting provides a great opportunity for peaceful reflection, especially on the words spoken during the Lord’s Last Supper with His disciples.  Two thousand years ago the Lord said to His Disciples, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).

Think about that for a moment!  The Lord wanted to share that Holy Supper with His disciples with fervent desire!  Today the situation is much the same, the Lord says to all of us: “Come and gather together for the supper of the Great God.” (Rev. 19:17).  “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).  He is asking us to come and gather together, and reflect upon his suffering and consequent victory that led to the restoration of our ability to have free choice in spiritual matters.  As disciples of the Lord, let us use this freedom of choice and respond to His invitation to Supper in the affirmative, with a resounding “Yes, I will come!”  We should have a fervent desire to share this supper with Him.

The Lord said these powerful words when He instituted the Holy Supper: “This is My body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).  And Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.’ ” (Matt. 26:27).  It is because of the perfect correspondence between partaking of the bread and wine in the Holy Supper to the imbibing of the Lord’s Divine Love and Wisdom, that the Holy Supper is called “the most holy act of worship in the Christian Church” (HH 111; cf. HD 210).

The Holy Supper really is not a complicated ritual, consider this simple advice we are given in the Writings: “I advise him, when he takes the bread and wine and hears them called the Lord’s flesh and blood, to think within himself of the Holy Supper as the holiest thing of worship, and to call to mind Christ’s passion, and His love for man’s salvation” (TCR 709).

The Lord knows the intentions of our hearts, that is what He looks at in us, so if we come forward with a humble and repentant spirit, are ready to pick one or two particular evils to shun, and pray to the Lord for strength, then He will give us strength (cf. AR 224:13).  When we do this and make a sincere effort to change our ways, then we are approaching the Holy Supper worthily.

The Lord is not asking us to be perfect, He is asking us to TRY!  If we were perfect, there would be no real need for Him to invite us to His Holy Supper, for we would have nothing we needed help improving on.  The whole point of the His invitation is that He recognizes that we are not perfect, and so He fervently desires that we dine with Him and ask for His help.

This concept is illustrated beautifully in Mark: “When the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, ‘How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance’” (Mark 2:16-17).

                                                                          Rev. Brad Heinrichs

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