Three years ago: Dad’s communion meditation

On Sunday, October 4, 2015, my dad shared the following communion meditation in the College Church assembly (Searcy, AR).  The words come from various songs and hymns that Dad strung together, and he read this aloud prior to “the Supper.”  I post this now, first, to honor the Christ; and second, to remember my dad’s ways and means.


Jesus is all world to me—My life, my joy, my all.

Tell me the story of Jesus.

“Abba Father, Father, If indeed it may,
Let this cup of anguish Pass from Me, I pray;
Yet, if it must be suffered, By Me, Thine only Son,
Abba, Father, Father, Let thy will be done.”

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble.
Were YOU there when they crucified my Lord?

Upon that cross of Jesus, Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me.
There behold His agony, Suffered on the bitter tree;

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
We place You on the highest place.

O sacred head, now wounded, With grief and shame weighed down;
Now scornfully surrounded With thorns Thine only crown;
O make me Thine forever; And, should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never Outlive my love to Thee.

Your only Son no sin to hide, But You have sent Him from your side
To walk upon this guilty sod And to become the Lamb of God.

My sin—O the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more;

Amazing love!  How can it be That You, my God, would die for me?

He could have called 10,000 angels, but He died alone, for you and me.

Soon Thou wilt come again:  I shall be happy then, Jesus, my Lord!
Then Thine own face I’ll see; Then I shall like Thee be,
Then evermore with Thee, Jesus, my Lord!

I behold You, my Lord and my King—in You, Jesus, I find ev’ry thing.
And now truly my worship I bring To You and unto You sing.
In beholding the glorious Son, my eyes see the Magnificent One,
And His splendor, as bright as the sun, reveals me: I am undone.

The Supper


Dad passed from this life on November 28, 2017, and I am of the distinct impression that he is experiencing a richer “communion” now.

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A chiastic communion prayer

Following an extended “confessional meditation” about my experience of communion/the Lord’s Supper, I offer now a meditational prayer I wrote for communion some years ago.

This prayer is in chiastic form; the structural feature was primarily a personal, spiritual exercise, but I did mention it to a couple others who were present that morning.  Possibly, the oral reading of the prayer wasn’t in vain for others’ sake:  I suspect that some of the repetition (part & parcel of rhetorically based, chiastic structure) is universally helpful—as people hear words aloud, that is.

As you read it, you could notice the conceptual and verbal connections between indented pairs (first and last, then move inward toward the center).  You could think particularly about the very center:  the participating.  Or, you could simply pray the prayer.


Now, Father, we come.
We come, in the stillness of this time, to do something You asked us to do often.

We come, according to the desire of Jesus, and because we believe He forever opened the door (and left it open!), for us to commune.

We Christians come not to “take communion,” as though it were a thing … a possession being offered and accepted in some sort of material transaction.

We come not even to “communion,” as though it were an event more than a familial union of spirits.

We come to commune with You, YHVH the gracious Father,
and with You, Jesus the Son.

We are needy and ready to experience Your grace …

to share in Your Nature …

to participate

with our whole selves

in the most stupendous of Your provisions:

Jesus, our Emmanuel,
the grace-gift of the Father.

We come to not to an event,

Or to some magical, grace-giving transaction, but to commune with You—
and with all these who call You “Father.”

We come in the name of Jesus.

We come, on this October morning, still now in Your presence, as You desire.
We approach You in spirit, Father God.

© Brian Casey, Fall 2006


I have presented this as copyrighted not because I wish to sell it but because I would like to know if someone finds this prayer useful somewhere else.  These are “my” words, but they are words intended for the Kingdom at large.  Please don’t hesitate to ask me — publicly here, or privately, at BLCasey14 {at} g mail – dot – com.  If you don’t feel like taking the time to ask, that’s OK — you hereby have advance permission anyway, but I’d love to hear from you after the fact.

A confessional communion meditation

What follows is a sort of confessional meditation about communion/the Lord’s Supper.

I lack a lot in technical insight, and I lack even more in devotion, but I still have the embers of a once-burning motivation to go deeper into (and to teach) the things of the Lord Jesus.  I began writing this 2-3 months ago and returned to it recently, in the course of deep, investigative study of 1Corinthians 11.


‘Twas on that night, when doomed to know the eager rage of every foe,
That night on which he was betrayed, the Savior of the world took bread. . . .
– John Morrison, “‘Twas on That Night” (1791)

To remember that night. . . .

To observe its significance. . . .

To honor and memorialize the Immortal One. . . .

To share with other believers the meaning of this bread- and cup-taking. . . .

It has been so long since I had (what I consider) a reasonably viable communion experience that I can hardly muster the feeling of “missing” it on the occasions on which I don’t have (or take) the opportunity.  There have been retreats and campfires and living rooms and dining room tables through the years, and a few other, isolated exceptions, but I am left high and dry by most attempts.

Even the communion times that I used to orchestrate for churches and smaller groups were most often lacking, in my estimation.

I wrote a few songs about the Supper; one of them was used in multiple groups and was self-published 3-4 times, in two different melodic iterations (with distinctly different affects).  Another song was more of a solo thing, and another couple started gathering dust even sooner.  About 20 years ago, an author-friend who knew I cared about such things sent me an out-of-print copy of an impressive treatise on the Lord’s Supper (by Warren W. Lewis, who had left Christian circles), suggesting that I might update/revise/write a new short book on the subject.   I did not feel qualified but did write up a list of 52 different aspects of communion—ostensibly for weekly use throughout the year, so that the practice of it wouldn’t get “tired.”

Of course, not everyone experiences the Supper’s observance as “tired.”  But there is something deep within me that longs for something more developed, something more richly meaningful, something more communal, something more Passovery, something more expensive or at least expansive . . . something . . . anything more.  I long for this not only for myself, but for all of my siblings.

I have just about stopped believing it’s possible—until the final consummation of things, that is.

My broken body thus I give
For you, for all. Take, eat, and live.
And oft the sacred rite renew
That brings My saving love to view.
– John Morrison

Among other goals for me in working long and hard with 1Cor 11:23-26 has been to get closer to this text so I can get closer to the Lord through the “meal.”  His saving love ought to be easy to bring to view in this way, you’d think, but for me, it has not often been so.

The “Supper” is described in certain scholarly circles as a “cultic ritual”/rite (and that epithet doesn’t carry the same connotations as in common parlance), but I want it to be more.  I want to recover some of the rich sense of connectedness that I think Jesus intended, and that I suspect Paul was trying to instantiate in the Corinthians.  For about 30 years I’ve retained a scholarly paper by Dr. James Walters on communal meals in Graeco-Roman antiquity—in the hope that it might some day be a source for real people today about real things that really happened in the real world of real first-century Corinth and other real cities.

I want to be part of a group that communes purposefully and meaningfully (whether it’s weekly or more or less often) as they  worship and wait together.

The 25 or 30 English versions to which I have access have only these variants of the last phrase of 1Corinthians 11:26:

“. . . till He come” “. . . till He comes”
“. . . until He comes again” “. . . till he may come”
“. . . until His coming” “. . . till he shall come”
“. . . until He returns” “. . . until the Master returns”

A similar phrase appears in 1Cor 4:1-5, and I have also, almost coincidentally, studied that text deeply.  There’s got to be something to this observant, expectant, faith-filled waiting, although some of us begin to flag in the vitality of expectancy as the years drag on.  Others find in the events of 66-70 CE the denouement of things, i.e., that, after the year 70, Jesus wasn’t “coming” in the future anymore.  Certainly, the destruction of the Jewish temple was a cataclysmic event not only for Jerusalem and the Jews, but for all those, including me, who would later believe in Yahweh and His son Yeshua as Messiah.

Presumably with 1Cor 11:26 in mind, the author of the poem “By Christ Redeemed, In Christ Restored” closed each stanza with the expression “until he come.”  Here are the last words of the final (that is, “final” of the four stanzas I used to sing before the song, unfortunately, began to die out) stanza:

“With the last advent we unite by one bright chain of loving rite . . . until He come.”
– George Rawson, “By Christ Redeemed” (1857)

While the Rawson words are poetic, they may not be reflective or expressive of reality for some of us.  I hope that most who read this do experience regularly what I do not.  For my part, in my heart of hearts, I want to identify with Jesus “until” . . . and with all who have for twenty centuries remembered, memorialized, mused on, commemorated, and honored our Jesus in this way.

Till He come—O let the words
Linger on the trembling chords. . . .

. . .

See, the feast of love is spread.
Drink the wine, and break the bread.
Sweet memorials, till the Lord
Call us round His heavenly board;
Some from earth, from glory some
Severed only “Till He come.”

– Edward J. Bickersteth, Jr., “Till He Come” (1861)


Postscript
In the event that these musings strike you as mostly a “downer,” I will next offer a meditational prayer I wrote for communion some years ago.

Communion Meditation (b) 1/15/2012: King Jesus

During the time of the formation of our country, George Washington is reported to have had the opportunity to become “king” of the burgeoning nation.  It is said that he knew there was only one King—Jesus—so he declined the offer.  Other people of the land apparently confessed the same ideal:  in a 1774 report to King George, the Governor of Boston asserted, ”If you ask an American, who is his master?  He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ.”  The pre-war Colonial Committees of Correspondence soon made this the American motto: “No King but King Jesus.”

George Washington seemed to know what most haven’t known.  When we displace God on the throne of our lives, the outcome will not be so good.  But when we put God on the throne by our personal allegiance, we put ourselves in the best possible position for godliness and align ourselves with the goals of His kingdom. . . .

It’s an election year in our earthly country.  There are lots of concerns.  You have yours, and I have mine.  But Christians must be exceedingly more concerned with the goals of our eternal country than with those of our earthly country.  In short, it is Jesus’ Kingship — His rule and reign — that demands our primary, our transcendent allegiance.  After all, we are, first and foremost, citizens of God’s Kingdom.

This is a radical idea, but when you think about it, it makes sense—God’s coming to earth and loving unlovable humans in the first place was also revolutionary.

Maybe our American ancestors knew the best way to start a revolution.  The motto “No King but King Jesus” is pretty revolutionary—and probably, just as much so within institutional Christianity.

As we once more proclaim His death through the drinking of the juice that symbolizes His blood, we are once more saying to Him and to each other that we believe He is King and that He is set on His throne at the Father’s right hand, waiting to return for His bride (us).  We are proclaiming His life, His death, and His resurrection until He comes again as King.  As we take these little cups in our hands this day, we are expressing that we know that He is the Savior, that He is ruling, and that He is the gracious, truth-filled, loving Redeemer.  He loves beyond any of our pathetic capacities to understand love, yet He does not require our complete understanding.  Our devotion is all He asks.

Take the world, but give me Jesus.  All its joys are but a name.  But His love abideth ever, through eternal years the same.

Take the world, but give me Jesus.  In His cross my trust shall be, till, with clearer, brighter vision, face to face my Lord I see.

O the height and depth of mercy! O the length and breadth of love!  O the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above!  – Fanny J. Crosby

Communion Meditation (a) 1/15/2012: Your Love

From a song inspired by a speech (and later, a book) given by Max Lucado:

Your love is faithful, pure, and true —
Reaching for me, no matter what I do.
I will not ever comprehend
How You can love Your children to the end.

Your love is constant ev’ry day.
Here in Your arms, no need to run away.
You love me just the way I am.
(But) all of my sin is taken by the Lamb!

BRIDGE:
Your love does not come and go;
Your love will never ebb and flow.

CHORUS:
And you love me far, far too much just to leave me here where I am.
You want me to be just like Jesus.

“Your Love,” (c) 1997 Brian Casey/Encounter Music

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Jesus loved in the purest, most radical way.  And that way was not the way of acceptance with no cost.  His way was the way of astounding grace that shows, first, unconditional acceptance and charity … and then, Jesus’ way of grace and truth inspires in the pure recipients of the love the most heart-filled, devoted followership.  We are compelled by His life and by His sacrifice to be His disciples—1) to requite His love, and 2) to follow Him.  What we’re about to do in the “Lord’s Supper” is one very important way we can say “My Jesus, I Love Thee, and “More Love to Thee, O Christ.”