Do certain foods bring back memories? Do you have specific new year’s foods that you associate with the upcoming Year?
Besides the traditional champagne, the Pennsylvania Dutch mark the New Year with sauerkraut and pork. In the deep South people celebrate with Hoppin’ John, a dish made with black-eyed peas, pork and rice. For many Asian families fish is an appropriate New Year food, and it’s important that the fish be served with the head and tail intact to ensure a good year, from start to finish. A Jewish New Year food tradition is apples dipped in honey, to express hope for a sweet new year. The NY Hudson Valley is known for New Year’s cakes. And in my family, our New Year’s Day tradition is to go out for Chinese food!
The bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper bring back memories as well. We’re reminded of what Jesus did to ransom and rescue us. The Lord’s Supper answers the question, “What has God done for me?”
Jesus took 2 elements of another memorial meal, the Passover Seder, which looked back on the Exodus from Egypt, and He transformed then into a New Covenant meal. He took the bread and wine and gave them new meaning. It’s been said that at Passover, “Jews eat history.” In the Seder meal, the bread stood for the bread made in haste as the Jewish nation quickly prepared to leave Egyptian bondage. The wine stood for the four biblical promises of redemption: “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rid you from their slavery, I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and I will take you to Me for a people” Others say the four cups represent the four Hebrew letters in the unspeakable Name of God.
In the Upper Room, the bread and wine stood for sacrifice. Many believe Jesus used the 2nd Seder cup of wine as the cup for His New Covenant meal, the cup that spoke of liberation…and by His blood we are freed from the bondage of sin. A cup of redemption. And we partake in it. In Communion we remember who we are, Whose we are, and the cost.
By taking Communion, the act of our participation is an act of commitment to Christ. It is a way of taking a stand. We don’t do this lightly. We give an oath by reciting the Apostles’ Creed.
By taking Communion, we show support for our church. We’re saying “This is where I belong.” This is my spiritual home. And by partaking together, we recognize that we belong to a larger Body, the fellowship of all believers.
By taking Communion we honor Jesus. We have memorial observances for famous people, special days to mark their deeds. Yet every day churches throughout the country and around the world observe Communion. No one else can command such honor.
By taking Communion we express our thanks for what Jesus did for us on the Cross; we recall His sacrifice for sin–the Just for the unjust. We come to the Table with gratitude.
By taking Communion, we express our love for the Lover of our souls, the One who first loved us. Love is commitment, and our faithfulness to Christ reveals just how committed we are. The ones we love have priority in our lives. This is a meal we don’t want to miss!
In John 4, Jesus’ disciples urged Him to stop and have something to eat. Jesus replied: “I have food to eat that you know nothing about…My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” What’s more important than our next meal is doing God’s will. Some people put way too much value on food; they become food snobs, foodies…and while I appreciate a good meal, I need to put my soul above my stomach. Proverbs 23:2 cautions that if food takes on too much importance we should “put a knife to our throats.” This is a warning against gluttony, but also on making food an idol.
Every new year we make resolutions to live better, to be healthier, to read more, to try new things. Our lives manifest what we truly think of Christ. Let’s resolve to put Jesus at the center of our lives in 2016.