Sweet Communion

“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table?”

communion“But I am among you as One Who Serves.”

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!” The words of Frances Crosby rang out, clear and true. It was the last day of the retreat and we’d all gathered for the final session and to partake in Holy Communion. I always found this custom interesting. In my particular denomination, we took Communion once a month or on special occasions. But every conference, no matter the location or sponsor, always ended with Communion. 

images “Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!”

I’d connected with friends from a previous conference and sat in the front row aisle seat. These ladies happened to enjoy sitting on the very first row in the auditorium! Sometimes I felt a little too close to the speaker. Front and center could be uncomfortable when the Word of God began to pierce your heart and Holy Spirit brought forth conviction!  Yet all had been washed clean as the new day brought forth new mercies and fresh revelation.

communion-lordssupper-bread-455260-o“Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”                    

Familiar scripture from Luke’s Gospel ushered us into a time of prayer and preparation. Leaders took their places and were served…the body and the blood…that they might, in turn, become servants.

“This is my story, this is my song.”

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I made my way to the front and ate of the body and the blood. Tears flowed freely as I knelt at the altar. “Perfect submission, perfect delight,”. Oh that the words being sung would become my mantra! “Visions of rapture now burst on my sight!” The front row seat had provided me a glimpse into eternity. Woman after woman came forward, lines formed on both sides of the auditorium. One by one they ate of His body and drank of His blood. Approaching the altar, then returning to their seats, their voices sang out in unison, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.” Was this not what heaven would be like? Would we not enjoy sweet communion with our Savior and praise Him for all eternity?

Crosby’s words became manifest as the atmosphere changed. “Angels, descending, bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” Ah, such sweet communion.

The conference had brought us together, women from all walks of life, as followers of Jesus. We’d sat at His feet listening intently while speakers brought forth His Word. We’d fellowshipped, shared, laughed, received, wept, broke bread, prayed, and worshipped together even as the disciples did some 2000 years ago. Wasn’t it fitting then, that we too should end with Communion?

That we might take into all the world

such a sweet Communion

and become as One

Who Serves?

Yes,

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This is my story

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and my song.

“Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”

Blessed Assurance/Frances J. Crosby, 1873

Mizbe’ah ~ A place of sacrifice

Ge. 22: 9 “When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar…”

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The Altar

In every church you’ll find one, that special place of reverence. It’s typically a tangible structure set aside for various uses such as prayer, baptism, communion…usually found in the front of a sanctuary near the pulpit.

A Living Sacrifice

In every church you’ll find one, that special person clothed in humility.  They’re typically the Matriarch or Patriarch of the congregation. A tangible source, always available for prayer, filled with the Holy spirit and in constant communion with God, they can usually be found in the front of the sanctuary near the pulpit.

Embracing The New

For the first time, I attended the healing service at our new church.  And there she was, standing in front of the altar…the one clothed in humility.

She chose her words carefully, yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. After a short teaching, all were invited to partake in the laying on of hands and prayer, kneeling at the altar.

Many came. But it wasn’t until the last person had been attended to did she, herself, ask for prayer. No longer able to kneel, she came and sat on the altar rail.

This Matriarch

I listened intently as she gave the “back story” to her prayer request. Deep sighs and occasional tears only intensified the radiant glory of the Lord which rested upon her.  She recounted all the times she’d visited this altar ~ her mizbe’ah.

Calling on the Name of the Lord, she had sacrificed by laying down each and every member of her family ~ right down to her great grandchildren. Calling on the Name of the Lord, she interceded for each person who’d ever gone forward on a Sunday morning as she met them at the altar.

Ge. 22:12 “Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.”

I began to see, not in the natural but in the spiritual realm, the altar she had built. Life after life, week after week, year after year, the bodies continued to stack up in front of where she sat.

I saw as she recounted those who had passed on, yet alive in Christ Jesus! I saw as she described those who were alive yet dead in Christ. I saw as she displayed her unwavering faith, believing that these souls would one day come to the fount of Living Water and receive everlasting life.

Ge. 26:25  “Isaac built an altar there and called on the Name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent and there his servants dug a well.”

Yes, here in this church, she had pitched her tent and called upon the Name of the Lord.  And surrounding her mizbe’ah, that night we clothed ourselves in humility and became her servants. There we pitched our tents and dug a well.

Buckets

~ where we found a plentiful supply of water ~

Water bucket being raised from a well

 Living Water

And though I participated and came away full, the experience begs the question…

Where is my mizbe’ah?

Where is yours?

You’re a good Maker

Pancakes

Buttery Goodness

“You’re a good maker just like Emma”, declared my three year old grandson!

Wow!  Praises of the highest order!

His eleven year old sister is the pancake maker in their house.  Every weekend she diligently prepares batter, sometimes putting her own spin on the recipe.  A dash of vanilla, a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Before you know it, buttery goodness swathed in syrup magically appears!

This is the three year old’s standard by which all other pancakes are measured!

The new mix I bought for Christmas confused my granddaughter.  Suddenly the morning routine was unfamiliar.  The tried and true no longer applied as different ingredients and cooking times were introduced.  The sprinkle of cinnamon was quickly replaced by a smidgen of frustration.

Unaware of our collaboration in the kitchen, the three year old waited patiently at the table for Grandma’s pancakes.  And with just one taste, he deemed them worthy of praise! So he praised their maker.

~And that got me to thinking ~

Embracing the new can be a little confusing, sometimes frustrating…even frightening at times.  There are no familiar routines…no tried and true methods for me to apply to the uncharted territory.

Ultimately, my only choice is to come to the Table……to wait…patiently wait.  And though I am tested…I continue to wait.

But before I know it, buttery goodness swathed in syrup magically appears ~ And with just one taste, I can see that it is good and worthy of praise.

~ So  I  Praise ~

My Maker

the Standard by which all others are measured

as I embrace the new!

  “Taste and see that The Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

Not Forgotten

  ~ I’d probably heard the song playing on the radio a hundred times before. But it seemed to pierce my heart in a new way ~

                                    “I have seen the many faces of fear and of pain, I have watched the tears fall plenty  from heartache and strain. So if this life’s journey has you weary and afraid, there’s rest in the shadow of His wings.”

  ~ The last couple of days had been spent in the quiet little town of Blakely, Georgia. As is so often the case, I’d received immeasurably more than I could have ever given ~

                                     “I’ve walked through the valleys, the mountains, and plains. I have held the hand of freedom that washes all my stains. If you feel the weight of many trials and burdens from this world, there’s freedom in the shelter of the Lord.”

  ~ Scheduled to speak at the Annual Women’s Luncheon, I’d prepared a message from an experience I’d had on a mission trip ten years ago to the Ukraine. It spoke of team…purpose…healing…living with a heart of God ~

                                  “And I have seen the healing hand of God, reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and see the fullness of His peace, and hold on to what’s being held out, the healing hand of God.”

    ~ I witnessed firsthand a group of women who’d unknowingly become the epitome of the message. Story after story was shared of women who’d experienced the loss of a husband,  a child, loved ones and close friends…women who were battling cancer, women who’d recently lost the fight ~

                              “And I’ve touched the scars upon His hands to see if they were real. He has walked the road before me, He knows just how I feel. When you feel that there’s not anyone, who understands your pain, just remember all of Jesus’s suffering.”

  ~ women who’d formed a team with a purpose to bring about healing, women who live with a heart of God ~

                          “Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you. He’s near to the broken and confused. By His stripes our spirit is renewed, so enter in the joy prepared for you.”

  ~ May we all be moved by the example of the Godly women of First United Methodist Church of Blakely to taste and see the fullness of God’s Shalom and hold on tightly to what is being held out…the healing hand of God ~

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Healing Hand of God Lyrics by Jeremy Camp

“Me not goin’ bye-bye!!!”

IMG_2314Driving home from a week’s vacation provided ample time to browse through new pictures and videos on my phone. Let’s see, take one lake cabin, a boat for tubing, several adults and three  grandchildren…well, you’ve got the makings of a pretty great week! The voice of my two and a half year old grandson was still ringing in my ears.

Every morning was the same. First one up, I’d make a pot of coffee and head out to the comfy seating area on the upper deck. This was my sanctuary…a place to enjoy quiet time with the Lord and His amazing creation. Slowly the rest of the house would awaken and before long the sanctuary was filled with sleepy-eyed adults, coffee cups in hand. My grandson began his daily ritual as well.

The door to the deck opened and closed more times than I could count! Its a wonder it didn’t fall off the hinges! Each time he opened the door we’d all say “Hi!” and receive the appropriate response. But when he turned to go back and we’d say good-bye, the response changed. “Me not goin’ bye-bye. Me dus goin’ in da house.”  After repeating this phrase numerous times each morning, he eventually added “Me be right back!”, in hopes of conveying his intentions.

Though a wonderful game for the adults, my grandson found no humor in the repetitive declaration. The innocent truth of a child’s words stirred something inside me.

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

…Me not goin’ bye-bye…Me dus goin’ in da house…

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

…Me be right back!…

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.”

Saying goodbye to my grandson wasn’t easy. I knew much time would pass before I’d see him again. “You go with me?” he asked. No, I have to go to my house now. But I love you very much and I will see you soon. I promise!

Today as I celebrate Pentecost…the giving of the Holy Spirit, my Counselor and Spirit of Truth…I am reminded of this:  Jesus has not left me but is in the House! He is preparing a place for me because He loves me and I will see Him soon.

He promised!

New Blog/New Name

New…perhaps that’s the perfect word to describe everything I’m experiencing. I’m a new Blogger, a new Author with a new book, new to Social Media…new. Sometimes that’s a scary place to be.

I find myself wrestling with every decision, fearful of failure.

Three years of my life have gone into writing a book. Because all of the stories in it are true, it was as if my very identity had become the book, Oliver Flower.  But I am not a book. I am simply someone who is wrestling for the new, trying to overcome the challenges set before me, and see God’s hand at work.

In the book of Genesis, Jacob entered a wrestling match of sorts. It continued all night until the break of a new day. Although he walked away limping, Jacob persevered, overcame, and was given a new name. I continue to wrestle with every decision, limping my way through technology that my grandchildren have mastered!

But it is the breaking of a new day and I am embracing it!  So in the spirit of perseverance and overcoming, the blog has been given a new name.

Simplicity of The Message

One hundred years ago Charles H. Pajeau, a stonemason, observed children playing with sticks and empty spools of thread. He and his partners decided to market a toy that would inspire children to use their imaginations. The cornerstone of the set was a 2″ wooden spool with holes drilled every 45 degrees around the perimeter and one through the center. A simple toy connecting a stick to a spool.

Millions have been sold.

Over 2000 years ago, the cornerstone of my faith was laid…scripture records it as “a chosen and precious cornerstone”. God saw that the world needed a Savior, a Way to the Father. So He sent His only Son with a simple message to connect all of humanity to Himself.

Millions have been saved.

A simple connection can change your world.

 

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