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The Politics of Communion

Jackson Snyder    July 6, 1997,   July 2, 2005


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John 6:52 So the Jews fought toward one another saying, How is this man able to give his flesh to eat?  53 So Jesus said to them, Amein, Amein, I say to you, if you eat not the flesh of the Son of the man and drink not his blood, you all have not life in yourselves.  54 The one eating of me the flesh and drinking of me the blood has endless life and I will stand him up in the last day.  55 For the flesh of mine is true food and the blood of mine is true drink.  56 The one eating the flesh of mine and drinking the blood of mine remains in me and I in him.  57 And as the living Father sent me and I live on account of the Father, so the one eating me, even that one, will live because of me.  58 Such is the bread – the one having descended out of the sky – not as the patriarchs ate and died.  The one eating this bread will live unto the endless age.

   59 This he said in a synagogue in Capernaum, teaching.  60 So many of the students of his, hearing, said, This word is hard!  Who is able to listen to it?  61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that the students are complaining about this, said to them, This scandalizes you? 62 What if you observed the Son of the man ascending where he was the first? 

 

Psalm 78  UMH 799 

 

Ten Commandments Monuments

   After years of preaching, it seems natural that Holy Communion and Independence Day fall together once a year.  But to hear some people, a state holiday and a holy day even sharing the same week should be illegal.  They tell us church and state aren’t to mix because someone might be offended – or because some church might take over.  I’m surprised that some groups haven’t sued over Communion on Sunday and Independence Day on Monday: close enough together to be considered state-sponsored religion, I suppose. 

   A bizarre Church / State decision passed the Supreme Court last week.  Three separate Ten Commandments monuments came before the court: two in Kentucky and one in Texas.  In strange judicial mixtures, the Court decided both monuments in Kentucky are unconstitutional, but the one in Texas isn’t.  The Court said the Kentucky monuments are fairly new, so they have to go; but the monument in Texas can stay because it’s been there for awhile. 

   To me, the church / state dispute about Ten Commandments monuments isn’t of much concern.  I’d be more interested if those involved actually kept the Ten Commandments instead of simply debating them.  I feel confident in saying that neither the advocates of monuments nor the judges who weigh the tablets of His laws keep them, for to break one is to break all, says the Apostle.  Furthermore, “anyone who says ‘I know him’ but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).

   That’s a fairly hard saying.  But the Apostle doesn’t stop there:

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Anointed is a child of the Almighty, and whoever loves the Father loves the son. In this way we know that we love His children, when we love Him and keep His commandments.  This is what the love of the Almighty is all about: keeping his commandmentsbecause every child of the Almighty overcomes the world. (1 John 5:1-4)

This pronouncement seems quite favorable to the mix of faith and governance.  Why so?  Because theocracy is a heavenly government ruled by a benevolent King who has designated us as emissaries to a yet untamed world.  The most obvious sign of our heavenly allegiance and common affiliation is our rite of Holy Communion.  Communion affirms our belief in the ultimate union of faith and government.

 

Church and State

   As to the separation of church and state: such is a 20th century concept based on a few words of the first amendment to the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; {or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.}

Where in that hallowed statement do we find the impenetrable “wall of separation”?

   A few with the bullhorn see the imaginary wall: those with unlimited money out of California and unregulated prime time out of New York.  They denigrate our faith and intellect by classifying our religion as nothing more than superstitious ignorance.  Why’re some Americans so hate-filled for people of the Christian faith?  because they know in their unclean spirits that we’re the ambassadors of the universal reign of Jesus - an ever-present threat to their freedom to sin.  Even demons know – and shudder – whether we know our own high position and function or not!

   Consider the recent “scandal” in the media about the Air Force Academy.  One news source headlines the words, “Air Force Academy Guilty of Religious Discrimination”; another writes, “Air Force Academy Doing a Good Job for God.”  My personal experience with Air Force Academy students has convinced me that these men and women are some of the most dedicated and decent young people I’ve ever known.  Indeed, I agree with the latter headline, “The Air Force Academy IS doing a Good Job.”  Evidently, God is still the co-pilot of many young cadets.

   Church and state could no more be separated than bread and butter if the church is religion and the state is politics.  Politicians will tell you that politics is a religion, just as churchmen affirm that religion is political.  Politics and religion are inseparable – if intentions are right, one keeps the other honest.  Honesty in government is the way of Heaven – but not the way of humankind.

   You and I are seeking a soon-coming theocracy - a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT ruled solely by Heaven’s child - the scion of David.  We’ve lived under antichrist long enoughover six thousand years.  Jesus and his Host will soon return and that will end the church / state debate.  Let me remind you that, as long as we await him watchfully and actively, then the Kingdom is already here – we live each day by the commander’s truths, rulings and ordinances.  We’re in this world, but we’ve claimed to be no longer OF it.  Our allegiance is to another world - for “My kingdom,” quoth he, “is not of this world.”  Our lives are politically locked into the Eternal Word – he who carries the government upon his shoulders.

 

I Pledge Allegiance

   When we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, we understand our fidelity in terms of covenant - we’ll be loyal to the constitution of our country, we’ll fight when sent forth (whether we agree or not), we’ll stand behind our leaders, and we’ll not betray our nation to its enemies.  It takes HUGE faith to pledge allegiance to a polyester symbol!  Yet we vow ourselves to the state with a sacred, yea religious, vow: We pledge ourselves over to the Republic for which it stands.[1]

   The Republic has great military might to defend “we the people.” The vestiges of its might are all about us.  During hurricane Ivan, “we the people” got a first-hand look at the compassion of our forces; the national guard made “we the people” feel secure and saved hundreds of lives.  Military might through the lens of a natural disaster was quite different than through the lens of Shock and Awe; however, again “we the people” feel secure in knowing that the weapons of our warfare are the most awesome on earth. 

   How could the United States and its people ever fall – except by sin?  Indeed, if you pay attention to the Hebrew prophets of the Bible, you’ll swear you’re inhabiting the New Israel of the end times, living peacefully and safely in the land flowing with milk and honey.  Amein, Amein – I tell you truly: we live in a golden age.

   In a few minutes, we the people of the United States of America will pledge allegiance to a different Sovereignty – one in which no tangible power can be readily observed by eye nor perceived by intellect.  It’s a sovereignty of Spirit and Truth.  The King rules behind the scenes, unlike our popular president in Washington, who governs in very public and noticeable ways.  (Maybe you heard his speech the other night June 28, 2005).  We owe our allegiance to our president; but to the King of Glory we owe not only allegiance, but TRUE worship. 

   Imagine: we enter his gates and pledge bodies, souls, minds, hearts, deeds and spirits to a dead man, publicly assassinated by the Empire, yet a man who wrestled death and defeated it not only for himself, but for all who’ll believe.  Our Majestic King lives forever – even in the here and now – even within the bodies and hearts and minds and chapels of His people, and the spaces in between.

 

For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a repentant and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the repentant.  For … from me proceeds the spirit, and I have made the breath of life.  Peace, peace, to the far and to the near, says Yahweh; and I will heal [you].”  Isaiah 57:15,16,19

 

The Pledge to His Kingdom

   Yes, a healing is required to attain citizenship of this great Kingdom; no written test will do.  One must be born again from above – for what is flesh is flesh and what is spirit is spirit, and flesh can’t rightly inhabit the unseen Kingdom.  His Holy Constitution must be diligently kept, precept upon precept, as a pledge of allegiance to his Sovereignty and his Monarchy. Thus we pledge not in words only, but in spiritual worship and mysterious rituals: the primary rite is recorded in Matthew 26:26-29:

The King took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body. Do this in remembrance of me. 

Kingdom sisters and brothers, we eat and drink HIM even as we eat and drink TO him.

   From the very first, this EATING has been considered more than controversial; it’s been deemed an act of treason - uncivil, irreligious, against country and common sense.  The source of the controversy is the bold words of the Ever-living King himself:

(John 6:53-56) I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you are not even alive; but whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. (NIV)

   This is a radical, political concept – bulldozing a vast breach in the dividing wall between church and state: Would we pledge allegiance to an invisible King of a state in an alternate reality by changing bread into flesh and wine into blood, then eating and drinking flesh and blood in a pledge of allegiance to that which can’t even be seen?  It’s absurd. It’s no wonder history records that “From this time on many of his political allies turned back and no longer followed him.”

 

The Food and Drink of the Heavenly Republic

   How does that strike you?  Do we ever consider what kind of cosmic statement we make when, centuries and centuries later, we fall upon our knees to eat and drink Him? Do we consider the radical claims we make when we consume a Man in this manner? Or has it just become ritualized to the point to which the King is no longer able to form himself into the tiny elements we consume, nor be carried bythe tiny blood cells that circumnavigate our bodies? Have we the faith anymore?  Is what the King told us about his body and blood truth anymore?  Do we believe him?  Do you believe him?  As someone said to me Wednesday night, “How do we know you’re not LYING!”  Good question.  Ask him who can’t lie.

   One Catholic writer relates a discussion he had with his new Lutheran wife about this very matter:

We never argued about religion, that beautiful Lutheran woman and I. We did have many discussions, especially in those first two years of marriage. Once she asked me to explain the difference between Lutheran and Catholic teachings on the Lord’s Supper. I dug up a copy of Luther and paced the floor and I quoted that the sacrament “is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the disguise of bread and wine....” Then I pulled down my old Catholic Catechism and read: “After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into the substance of the body and blood of our Lord there remained only appearances of bread and wine.” Catholics, I explained, believe that the Real Presence means Jesus is there - body, blood, soul, and divinity - and there’s no longer a crumb we can call bread or a drop we can call wine.

   That beautiful Lutheran woman, whose understanding was so much more Lutheran and less dogmatic, looked up at me from her chair - and laughed. My eyebrows went up. “What’s so funny?” “You don’t believe that,” she said. “Yes I do.” “No you don’t,” she replied. “If you do believe that Jesus is there in the bread and the wine, all body, soul, spirit, flesh, blood, humanity and divinity, and that there’s no longer a crumb we can call bread or a drop we can call wine, then why don’t you ever go to church?”[2]  {OOO!  That hurts!}

   Eating a Man is a radical concept.  It’s a fine for mind-eating only or some philosophical or symbolic kind of eating.  But when we come to kneel and receive, ¿ will we take the actual body and blood of Jesus into our hands, upon our lips, against our tongues, down our throats into the abyss of our stomachs, to be digested and invested in our flesh and blood and being?  Yes, we will, in a very real, tangible, spiritual sense.  And do we really experience the transformation of the heavenly nutrients at the cellular level?  And do we really appreciate our transmutation from the principality known as The Dominion of Darkness to the New Eden of the Son?  We can; we should.  And by sheer faith, we shall.

   To receive this eternal truth by faith in HIS Word is a great deal of what it takes to actually gain eternity.  If we truly believe, why don’t we put aside our pitiful, selfish attempts at person control and godhood and humbly and gratefully approach the table of the Spirit who took the form of a man to die for you?   And why don’t we serve his body every Sunday - or every single day of the week, for that matter, in both our chapels, homes and hearts?  If the Almighty so strongly witnesses to this practice - even to the extent of commanding it - then shouldn’t we believe him and obey his call to eat and drink? {Office Communions}

 

The Final Promise

   Anyone may come who’ll believe it all about him, have utmost faith in him, venture toward abiding in him, utterly consume him – and become him.  It takes a lot of faith for that – more than faith – it takes a new birth.  A gallant friend of the King writes to us one last testament about Him – and it’s purely church and state.  The Beloved Disciple writes:

1 John 5:13-15 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of Yahweh so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching the Almighty: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him.

   Just like the promise spoken from the mouths of political hopefuls for two hundred twenty-nine years. “I’ll give you anything you want, if you’ll vote for me.”  The difference here is that the promise comes not from the mouth of a lying campaigner, but from the One who’s utterly incapable of lying. 

   Prepare your heart now to receive a Kingdom that was established for you upon Love’s foundation in the Light of Truth from the beginning of creation – where the separation of church and state vanishes when the King, to you my friend, appears in bread and wine, and love and power.  Amein.

 

Father, may we as nation be guided by the Divine to rediscover our national heritage, which so many have given their lives to safeguard; Let the wounds of separation and division be healed by opening our hearts to listen to the truth, allowing us to find a higher truth; May we learn to honor and enjoy our differences as a people, even as we more deeply touch our fundamental unity; May we draw forth individuals to lead our nation who embody courage, compassion and a higher vision; May our leaders inspire us, and we so inspire each other that a new spirit of forgiveness, caring and honesty be born herein; May we move with clear, directed purpose to help build a better future for all humankind; May we as a nation rededicate ourselves to living as one nation, under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; And may Yahweh’s Will be done for our country, as we, the people, align with that Will.  Amen.

 



[1] Friends, the Republic is us: “we the people” of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.

[2] Mike Aquilina.

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