November 2015 Pastoral Letter (Lord’s Supper)

Beloved in Christ,

As I begin my letter to you this month, I want to take a moment to simply communicate the gratitude Ami and I feel because of the way you have cared for us before and after Tristan’s birth. You remembered us in your prayers as Ami neared the end of her pregnancy, you brought us meals even before Tristan was born, you were ready to answer the phone in the middle of the night if we needed someone to watch our kids in order to go to the hospital, you cared for our children while Ami was in labor, you celebrated with us and brought us gifts and so many more meals after our son was born. Thank you. Thank you for all of the material help you provided, but even more, thank you for being a family for us when our parents and siblings are so far away. We are grateful! And glad, of course, to now have a native Texan in our family. One of my closest friends from my lifetime pastoral group is planning to come up from Houston on November 22nd to baptize Tristan—we look forward with you to that day.

Along with gratitude, I also want to communicate with you this month regarding some changes that the Session has approved in our practice of the Lord’s Supper at Colleyville. First of all, the church has invested in some new communion trays – I don’t know exactly how many years our current ones have been used, but the new ones look beautiful.

Also, many of you have noticed, I’m sure, that we have recently changed the wine we use in communion to a port wine. In addition to this, we will this month be transitioning from the Matzo crackers to “real” bread.

The fundamental reason for these changes—new communion trays, new wine, new bread, is simply this: we believe our weekly Lord’s Supper is (and is also a foretaste of) a rich and lavish feast with the God who created all things, and we want our practice to better reflect that reality. In other words, we are making these changes for unabashedly aesthetic reasons. Because the Lord’s Supper is a feast prepared for us by Jesus himself, and a picture of his love for us, we want to use wine that smells like wine, wine that tastes sweet but is also a little strong when we swallow. We want to use bread that looks enticing, bread that smells good, bread that tastes like it was made to be enjoyed when we eat it. And we want to use trays that shine when we pass the bread and wine on them to one another.

So why this emphasis on aesthetics, on beauty and taste, on created things? Isn’t this unspiritual? Not at all. For our Lord Jesus himself made all of creation, and he has chosen, through the power of the Spirit, to share himself with us in the things of this world: human language, water, bread, wine.

And it is my hope as your pastor that we would be a church that lives as though the created world matters. That when we gather on Sunday mornings we would desire for all of our worship—our prayers, our songs, our baptisms, our bread, our wine, even our communion trays, to be beautiful. Not because we want to impress God or our neighbors. But because God made all things and called them good and gave them to us to enjoy.  And because his beauty points, wherever it is found, to goodness and truth, and to the everlasting kingdom that awaits.

As one of my favorite writers, Robert Farrar Capon, puts it, “Half of earth’s gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become. For all its rooted loveliness, the world has no continuing city here; it is an outlandish place, a foreign home, a session in via to a better version of itself—and it is our glory to see it so and thirst until Jerusalem comes home at last.”

When we seek beauty in our worship, it is a way of remembering that we gather week by week at the table of Jesus, the one who is more beautiful than all creation; and that he is the firstborn from the dead, the bright morning star in east, and the one who promises to one day bring the eternal dawn. For Jesus is not only our king but also our host, and when we gather on Sunday mornings, we gather for his feast. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!

Let’s follow him together.

In Christ,

Pastor Josh