HITCHCOCK: On birthdays and breaking bread – Valdosta Daily Times

hitchcock:-on-birthdays-and-breaking-bread-–-valdosta-daily-times

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Long ago when my daughters were still under my roof, they liked to quiz me about birthdays. By their randomly calling out a family member, friend or an acquaintance’s name, I’d recall that person’s birthday. We had fun with their birthday recall game.

These days, still being able to recall a person’s birthday is a good thing. Yet, more often than not, I fail to remember to wish the person happy when the birthday actually arrives. And, somehow for me, remembering to acknowledge a birthday is more personal than simply recalling it.

In the coming and going of daily life, I pass houses of worship bearing symbols of my faith. Crosses are in abundance and I easily recall what the cross represents. Yet, when I come to the Lord’s table to partake of Holy Communion, I’m invited to remember why the cross is so necessary to my faith.

I live among people with birthdays. I even have my own share, so I’m in dire need of forgiveness. It’s my human condition. 

As a life-time-church-going Christian, I fail at loving God with my whole heart. I forget my first love (Revelation 2:4). I rebel against the grace God offers me. I break His law at every turn. And more often than not, I don’t love others very well either. 

I don’t remember to wish them happy birthday. Moreover, I ignore their worth as image bearers of the Holy God. This is especially true of others who don’t think like me.

So my sin list is exhaustive. There’s never been enough ink or space. That’s why I need Jesus, and I’m like the psalmist who is so glad to go into the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1). Especially when we celebrate Holy Communion.

Partaking of Holy Communion, which is also called the Lord’s Supper, is my favorite act of worship. As I worship I’m reminded of the actions of Jesus on the night He gave up His life for my redemption. While among the disciples in the upper room of a house where they were sharing supper:

“He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: ‘This is my body broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’

"Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’” Luke 22: 19, 20 (NKJ)

I’m reminded that before I knew anything about God or even celebrated my first birthday, Christ died for me. Through His death on the cross, my sins are all forgiven (Romans 5:8). Long ago, the Creator of the Universe prepared a table for me through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. 

While partaking of the broken bread and juice, I remember all that has been done for me through the birth, death and resurrection of His son. And in remembering these things, I better understand God’s goodness that follows me every day of my life (Psalm 23:5, 6). It is so personal.

By celebrating Holy Communion, I proclaim the mystery of my faith: Christ died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. This simple act of worship is an outward sign of a beautiful and inward work of grace.

Christ died centuries ago. Yet I somehow sense the presence of my Savior while partaking of Holy Communion. It warms me. Unlike a hot flash or a digestive ailment so common for a girl with my share of birthdays, it’s delightful. 

And I think about the two disciples who walked beside the resurrected Jesus. As they traveled from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus, they didn’t realize it was Jesus walking with them. That is, until He later blessed the loaf of bread and broke it to share with them:

“Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him ... and they said to one another, ‘Did our hearts not burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us.’” (Luke 24: 31, 32)

So it is, when celebrating Holy Communion, I don’t just recall the cross. I remember the cross and my heart burns anew with God’s forgiveness. Oh, how I need it. I need it simply because I have a birthday. And it’s just that personal.

Becky Hitchcock a member of Valdosta First United Methodist Church and a life-long resident of Old Clyattville in Lowndes County.

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