Communion

Everything

Every week we have communion at my father’s old table. It is a potluck style meal where we get together to remember what Jesus has done for us. Last night we had a more traditional expression of that sacrament in response to a friend’s good news regarding a tumor that was benign. When we were being served, we laughed and we were jovial, delighting in what Jesus has done.

Communion

Purpose over Ritual

Here are words for the ritual:

The Lord himself ordained this holy sacrament. He commanded His disciples to partake of the bread and wine, emblems of His broken body and shed blood. This is His table. The feast is for His disciples. Let all those who have with true repentance forsaken their sins, and have believed in Christ unto salvation, draw near and take these emblems, and, by faith, partake of the life of Jesus Christ, to your soul’s comfort and joy. Let us remember that it is the memorial of the death and passion of our Lord; also a token of His coming again. Let us not forget that we are one, at one table with the Lord.

Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who out of Your tender mercy gave Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption: hear us, we most humbly beseech You. Grant that, as we receive these Your creatures of bread and wine according to the holy institution of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in remembrance of His passion and death, we may be made
partakers of the benefits of His atoning sacrifice. We are reminded that in the same night that our Lord was betrayed, He took bread and, when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise, after supper, He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” May we come before You in true humility and faith as we partake of this holy sacrament. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.1

We didn’t recite these words last night. We could have, and it would have been lovely. We could have read Isaiah 53:4-5. But here is the thing: We observed this sacrament in the way we did as a response to what Jesus did in the lives of the Filippelli family. When they received confirmation that a tumor was benign, the response came quick and purposeful. “We get to celebrate at Abel House!” was an actual reaction to the news. Then came a text message:

So, as a response to what God has done in their life, we celebrated it with what Jesus did on the cross. It was at this point that the ritual was transcended into an act of worship. Life is worship and our response is sacred, because of what He has done, not because of how we do it.


  1. Text taken from the Church of the Nazarene Manual, my old faith tradition. 

Barbecue and Baptism

Everything

One of the most sacred elements of any church is baptism, with Jesus Himself being baptized. (Matthew 3:13-17)


On All Saint’s Day, 2015, the members of Abel House got together with friends and family to have a barbecue and to celebrate the baptism of the Farella family.

Sue and David
Mike Grilling!
Ethan and Allison

A Photographer

Mike Farella is a professional photographer. A few years ago when Northland held a weekend baptism celebration, I recommended Mike, for a couple of reasons. I knew he was a great photographer. Also, I was being a bit selfish about it. My daughters were there to get baptized and I wanted great photos of the occasion.

However, when Mike took the photos for Northland’s baptism, he wasn’t a Christian. I remember asking him about the experience shortly after it, and his response was noteworthy:

“There were people that were visibly different coming out of the water. You could tell there was a supernatural change.”

A few months ago Mike and I were talking — he had a been through a couple of significant life moments — and it was apparent God was working in his life in ways that Mike was just beginning to see. It didn’t take long for Mike to begin asking me about baptism. God had grabbed his heart, seized it, and began to work in him. New life was in order.

The Baptism

When Mike was discussing his baptism with his family, it was his daughter, Allison, that said matter-of-factly:

“We should do this a family.”

Mike and Julia where dubious. After asking Allison all kinds of questions, it was clear. Mike, Julia and Allison would be baptized as a family.


Gabe and I entered the waters to baptize Mike.

Mike being baptized.
Mike being baptized.

In turn, Mike — being newly baptized, full of the Holy Spirit, being called into the Priesthood of All Believers (1 Peter 2:9) — and I, baptize Julia.

Mike and I baptizing Julia
Mike and I baptizing Julia
Mike and I baptizing Julia

It is at this point, that the distributed church is best realized. Full of God’s authority and power, Mike, has every right, calling and permission, to baptize his daughter.

While holding Allison, Mike and Julia ask her if she loves Jesus and wants to tell the world about the Good News of what He has done. An emphatic “Yes!” was the response.

Mike and Julia baptizing Allison
Mike and Julia baptizing Allison

And with that, we thanked Jesus for what He has done. We gave glory to God in Heaven for the works He does in the Farella family and in our lives.

Giving Thanks to God for what He has done.

Divine Appointment

Who took these pictures? Well, it was my two daughters, Reina and Jaden, who Mike photographed years ago for their baptism.

Sometimes it seems like God knows what He is doing.