Sacrifice. By Rebekka Hansel
What do you think of when you think of the word “sacrifice”?

Tonight, as I write this, it occurs to me that it’s the 20th day of Lent, a season wholly and completely dedicated to the word, in one way or another. Never having grown up observing this season, I’ll admit that it’s unfamiliar territory. And, if I’m being totally honest, it always seemed to me to be an opportunity for people to stop doing things that they shouldn’t have been doing anyway. You know, cursing, drinking excessively, eating junk food 24/7. Or maybe those were just my friends.

No matter. In the past few years, I have entered into the season at times whole heartedly, at times half heartedly, and at times just as a cheerleader and not a participant. Even this year, I find myself committed to forgoing sweets or dessert until Easter, but lacking any sort of consistency when it comes to the Lenten guide or focused prayer (sorry, Pastor. And Jesus.). 

But what I HAVE been doing a lot of lately is thinking about that word. Sacrifice. It almost seems too obvious, doesn’t it? The whole point of Lent IS to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice. If you aren’t AT LEAST doing that, you didn’t understand the assignment. 

Something does feel different this year, though. I do think it has something to do with our weekly opportunity to participate in the Lord’s Supper. That’s another thing that’s new to me, as someone who was brought up in a Pentecostal, non denominational church, where Communion Sunday was the first Sunday of the month and maybe Good Friday, but definitely not Easter because Easter is supposed to be happy and there’s nothing  happy about Communion.

However, in taking time each Sunday to partake of the bread (wafer) and cup (of grape juice) I’m finding that there is actually power in the act of eating and drinking. Power that I believe we underestimate. 

When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ?” - 1 Corinthians 10:16 (NLT)

You see, we are not ONLY remembering. There is a transaction taking place. The word “communion” actually means “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level”. 

This is why Paul goes on, in his letter to the Corinthians, to warn these early Christians that they cannot, MUST NOT, participate in both the Lord’s Supper and also eating food sacrificed to idols. 

The thing is, I believe that we can acknowledge the importance of the Lord’s Supper, or “Communion”, and yet also miss a lot of the point. Paul tells the church at Corinth (and us) that we are actually sharing in the body and blood of Christ.

And that’s what I’ve been thinking a lot about over these last few days and weeks.

Recently, our small group went to see “The Thorn” which is a video recording of a passion play that tells the story of creation, the fall of man, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, using ballet and aerial acrobatics. The production quality is what you’d expect from a church group that is putting something together for the big screen, but the part that I can’t forget is the scene where they showed Jesus being beaten with the Roman whip.

It’s easy to think of a whip as just a long piece of leather or some other material that’s used on animals to get them to run faster. But this whip was made of two or three leather ox-hide thongs and each thong had metal balls, bones, and metal spikes attached. 

History tells us that Jesus was beaten with just such a whip, or scourge, 39 times. Scripture tells us that “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our inquiries; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NLT).

This, then, is what we are sharing in when we practice the act of Communion. Sacrifice, yes, but also victory! When we break the cracker or wafer or loaf of bread, we remind ourselves (and  the enemy) that Jesus’s body was broken for our healing. When we drink of the cup, we remind ourselves (and the enemy) that we are forgiven.

The other day I was watching a movie, and the characters were singing the old hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee”. If you’re not familiar, the first stanza begins:

Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raises me.

Now, that might be a nice sentiment, but actually it’s completely unbiblical. WE are not and will not be raised on a cross because HE already was FOR us! The only cross we should now bear is the cross that our flesh carries in submission to the Lordship of Jesus.

So back to the Lord’s Supper, Lent, and sacrifice. I want to encourage all of us that in these next weeks, as we walk up the aisle each Sunday morning for our Communion elements, that we don’t just remember. We share….we participate…we celebrate. Now and always.

1 Comment

Dawn - March 17th, 2023 at 10:00am

Thank you! Very well said:)