As you may know, I took an amazing trip this summer. My family got the opportunity to visit Vietnam, a place we hadn’t been to since 2002 when we adopted Maly. So as part of communion I’ve prepared a slideshow of our over 600 photos . . . Just kidding.
We did have a great trip and we did get to see and do a lot. And we learned a lot–I think sometimes the kids felt like they were learning too much, and they wanted the tour guides to put a cork in it so they could just wander around a bit. And rather than show you 600 photos, I want to share just one story that I learned that I thought was pretty cool.
This is a pair of Asian lion dogs. They are mythical creatures that one might keep in one’s home for protection. They come in pairs so they don’t get lonely. One has its foot on a jar, representing the protection of your possessions. One has his foot on a cub, representing the protection of your children. We got a couple, not necessarily for protection, but because I like the story, and because they remind me of the church, which is why I’m sharing this part of my trip now, at communion time.
While Jesus was waiting to be arrested and crucified, he went off to pray. He said, “What I’m about to ask for, I do not ask on behalf of my current followers, but for those also who will believe in Me through their word, (I think that would include us); that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” A bit later he prays that they (we) may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that god sent Jesus.
In the book of acts we see one of the ways that the early church worked toward this unity of believers. –“And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32-35 NASB)
So that’s why I brought home a pair of lion dogs. Because they remind me of the church that Jesus prayed for, of the church that Jesus died for, of what the church, us included, is supposed to be.
God gives us each other so that we don’t get lonely, so that we can take care of each other, and so that we may be all in one. Like they did in the book of acts, this means seeing that our brothers and sisters (and our neighbors and our enemies, if I understand Jesus correctly) have what we need and some of the things we want. And it means seeing that our kids and our families are cared for. We are to do this together and for each other.
And I’ll be honest, I think this church, and this community, do an amazing job of this. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. Especially by a couple of sweet Asian mythical creatures.
So as we take the body and blood of Jesus this morning, and as we remember his life, death, and resurrection, let’s remember especially that Jesus prayed for us to be one, to take care of each other, not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the world. And maybe we can thank god for all that we receive from each other. And then take those blessings out into the world.