Giving Christ to Everyone: Lent 2011
by David Webb
"Gather as much of it as each of you needs.... Let no one leave any of it over until morning. But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul...." Exodus 16:16b-20a (NRSV)
Honestly, it's been a long time since I really thought about the story of God providing manna to the children of Israel as they wandered throughout the desert. I admit that I really don't pay as much attention to the Old Testament as I do the New Testament. It took my daughter, who's only three, to help me understand the connection between God's promise given in both the Old and New Testaments.
Within the past couple of months in particular, Noelle has become very interested in Communion. "Daddy, I want some," she said one Sunday, so I shared mine with her. I asked my pastor what he thought about allowing her to receive. As a baptized member of the church, she was welcome to receive Communion at my wife's and my discretion.
I began working with her on proper Communion etiquette, and the next Sunday, she was ready. We went to the altar rail, positioned our hands, received the bread, held it in anticipation of the cup, dipped it without letting our fingers touch the wine, ate, and said, "Thank you, God."
She was enthralled. Besides saying, "Next time, can we dip it in chocolate?" she seemed satisfied.
Within a few days of receiving Communion the second time, she began going around our home, with her make-believe Communion bread and sharing it. "Given for you," she said, the same way our pastor says those words to us. From there, a play muffin pan became the bread basket, and a small blanket became its cover. A tea cup is the chalice. My wife and I, our Pomeranians and cats, and just about every stuffed toy in our home have been offered Christ's presence with the assurance, "Given for you."
One recent morning, as I was trying to put Noelle's coat and cold-weather garments on so we could go to preschool, she picked up her "bread basket." "Come on, Sweet, we're running late," I said. She looked at me with an expression of innocence and seriousness. "Daddy, wait!" she said, "I have to give a piece of Christ to everyone."
How could I not laugh? And then it hit me. This sweet beautiful little girl of mine expressed one of our Christian duties--and opportunities. Not just during Lent. Every day. We're supposed to give a piece of Christ to everyone.
When the Hebrew children tried to hoard the manna, it spoiled. God provided for them each day. Christ does the same for us, but if we try to hoard God's love, it may not necessarily spoil, but it doesn't nourish us. For us to truly receive the love of God, we need to give a piece of Christ to everyone.
Date posted: Apr 04, 2011