Mr and I have been truly blessed this month. We’ve seen each other almost every week! Starting with a Labor Day beach weekend with friends and soon to be ending with the matrimonial union of two people we both love and care for very much, September 2013 is shaping up to be the month of more face time, and I’m so grateful for it.
Look! A picture to prove it…
So yesterday we attended Bedside Baptist Church for our worship service. This practice, for the lay people, is choosing to view religious services online or on television from the comfort of one’s bed, or couch, but clearly “bedside” has certain implications and preferences. The service live-stream from my home church in NY was great. The sermon topic was “Requisites for Renewal” and spoke right to situations I had been going through. God is not impressed with the stuff I do, the things I build – even in the Kingdom – or the accomplishments of my hand. If I want help and healing from God, I have to humble myself, pray, seek His presence and change my bad behavior. It was simple and relevant. Sometimes that is all I need.
After “church” we got ready to eat. Now, I love brunch. I love brunch so much that I do not know why other meals exist. There’s no reason. Brunch has everything you need. I’m quite sure I was designed to have tea and a piece of fruit for breakfast, a mighty brunch, and then snack throughout the day. I’m quite sure of it. I should try it out long term as a way of life. We ended up at Busboys & Poets, which Mr really liked. Anytime Mr’s belly is happy, I’m happy, and I thoroughly enjoyed my sweet potato pancakes. We ate so much that I suggested we walk from the restaurant to the National Book Festival on the Mall – a mere 2.3 miles. We took our time and talked as we stretched out that 45-minute walk – mostly about Mr’s current issues in parenting. (Teens are tough!) En route, we passed by fellow brunchers and recently married friend Delano who contributes to Black and Married With Kids with his lovely wife, Stephanie. As we left the adorable couple to their brunch buddies, Mr leaned over and asked me, “Do all your friends look so smart?” Yes. Yes, they do. And they are smarter than they look! Seriously though… don’t they look amazeballs?
We were slowed down on our way to the National Book Festival by Fiesta Day DC. Hola a mis amigos Latinos! By the time we made it to the Mall, I only had the energy to stop at my office to use the bathroom. There was no argument from Mr. when I recommended we take the metro home. We got home, and we fell asleep. What is more pleasant than a mid-day Sunday nap? It’s the best way to celebrate the weekend and to give the perception of a weekend extension! Most likely one wakes up and thinks Monday is closer than it is when in fact, it’s only about 4 p.m. on a Sunday and all of Sunday evening awaits your leisurely expense of time.
When we did wake up, we ordered some pizza and had a quick Bible Study. Well, we set out to have study, but really we just explored some themes together. As I may have mentioned, Mr and I come from varying religious belief systems. If we were held at gunpoint and told to profess our religious affiliations at the time of our coming together, Mr would scream “Jehovah’s Witness” and I would scream “Baptist.” That was 3 years ago, though. I think now we’re both a little more thoughtful and accurate, depending less on denominational association and more about our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. It may take more words, but if the hypothetical gunman hasn’t shot us dead by the time we get it all out, we may have just had the opportunity to actually share the good news. Message: Don’t get lazy using labels.
Many months ago, I asked Mr if he’d be interested in having Communion at our wedding ceremony. It’s something that I most frequently see done at Catholic ceremonies, and I actually think it’s a missed opportunity to remember Christ at other Christian marriage ceremonies when it’s not done. So this deceptively simple question: Can we have Communion? led to the revelation that Mr doesn’t participate in Communion. Now, there are a few things this Bible-toting Baptist draws the line at, and I think “no Communion” was about to get on the list. Mr’s reasoning were all real to him and yet sounded like a pile of crap to me. It took all that was good and godly within me to say, “Maybe we should study that together before answering the question together. It’s really important to me, and it’s just as important to learn why you don’t participate in it.” What I really wanted to say was… “You and these cockamany beliefs! You’s a fool!” See? I’m growing.
So yesterday we sat down and started our study. We started at the beginning – the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus Christ in the gospels according to Matthew and Mark . Then Mr said he thought only the 144,000 marked of God in Revelation would get to eat at the table with Jesus, so he saw no reason to partake here on earth. (Yeah… keep waiting for that to make sense. I’ve moved on.) We went to Revelation when the 144,000 were marked and then again when they are more fully described. Seeing no real connection to the Lord’s Supper and the 144,000 thousand, we went to Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth regarding abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Still, no strong connection to the 144,000 (making it a challenge for Mr to connect his own thoughts and make a case for why we should not have Communion offered at our wedding, or more importantly, why he should not take Communion), so Mr asked me why I take Communion and what I think about when I take it. I shared that I take Communion to remember Jesus’ suffering and death for me. I think about how unworthy I am for that sacrifice, and see the pre-Communion moment as a time for personal reflection, confession to God and commitment to repentance and knowing that that is still not enough, the consumption of the elements are an admission of my surrender to God’s work in and through me – that I can’t do anything by myself, and I have to accept God. The invitation to the Communion table is an opportunity for intimacy in relationship – knowing who I am, who God is, who Christ is, and choosing the love and leadership of all accordingly.
I find that when Mr and I spend our time in study getting to the root of why we do something, why we believe something, we either find something false or something true. Neither is that easy to deal with, but we’ve grown from the process – individually and as a couple. And by false, let me be clear that that includes all things unfounded and mythical perhaps developed in some effort to explain a challenging truth. So somewhere along the line Mr was taught or started to believe that only the blameless and perfect would commune at the table with the Messiah. This was most likely some well-intentioned attempt to get Mr and others to make every effort to be perfect, which is… well, I don’t believe we can be perfect on our own. But having found out that he can’t be perfect, I think Mr might have just given up on the pursuit? I don’t know… I should let him tell his own story. But just hearing someone say, “I have never heard that before. Tell me more…” or “Wow! That’s different from my experience. May I share my experience with you?” can open the ears and soften the heart to receive something more true. I’m not saying that in this or other cases what I’ve been taught, believe, or know is some absolute truth, but we put what each of us had been carrying to our agreed upon standard of measure – the Word of God – and one theory held and the other didn’t. Draw your own conclusions. The real bottom line is that Mr is more open to considering changes in his thinking, which makes me happy.
So I don’t know if Mr will ever take Communion. I’m not pushing him to do it. It’s a very personal choice, but I’m hoping that when we’re ready to plan our wedding ceremony, talks of Communion will be more informed, and maybe (just maybe) I’ll get my way.