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Communion

 

 

This year, as I (Mario) was speaking to our students during Table of the Lord, I asked them this question: What is your favorite meal? The responses were as varied as the kids themselves. Everyone one had a story as to why a particular meal was his or her favorite. Even for the parents, the discussion evoked a sense of nostalgia and remembrance. Food is a powerful storyteller. I like to binge watch Food Network programs and I’m struck by the number of times I hear how a person’s love of food is coupled with a desire to reach their community. In a world where there is still much tribal division, sharing a meal with someone from another part of the world reminds us that we all share something in common. The table, then, has a way of bringing people together who might otherwise stay apart.


The Cross

 
 
As Christians we wear crosses around our necks, on our lapels and in rings on our fingers. We decorate our homes with crosses, adorn our sanctuaries and place them high on steeples. Some Christians cross themselves in times of prayer or devotion. Pastors often make the sign of the cross over the congregation as a blessing or mark the foreheads of the newly baptized.


Candles

 
Scripture: John 1:1-14 
 
OK, we have light switches, light fixtures everywhere in our sanctuaries. We normally meet on Sunday mornings when the morning light is streaming through our windows. So why, candles?


The Pulpit

 
 
Every space tells a story. Whether we intend them to or not. As Tera and I prepared our kids for a new school in a new city this fall, we purchased items to decorate their lockers. Each of them picked items that were a reflection of their personalities. Their rooms at home are no different. One step into Brayden’s room will give you a window into what his interests are. Without needing to ask him, you’ll learn who his favorite basketball player is and which team he roots for. Londyn’s room quickly points to the fact that she loves music, her friends and has a snow globe collection that spans the world. Their spaces tell their story.


The Altar

 
Scripture: Matthew 5:23-24
 
When I grew up at Zion Lutheran in Creighton, NE it was normal for me to see on Sunday mornings a wood altar (looked like a big wooden box) with colored cloths hanging on it. The Catholics down the street had a big stone altar with colored cloths hanging on it.


Baptism

 
Scripture: Romans 6:1-7
 
I don’t remember my baptism at Zion Lutheran Church in Creighton, NE, because I was a baby. I don’t remember being born at Lundberg Memorial Hospital in Creighton, NE, also because I was a baby. Just as I didn’t do much at my birth, so I didn’t do much at my rebirth either.


Ash Wednesday

 
 
I, (Mario), did not grow up in a confessional church that followed a church calendar. The sights, sounds, colors and rhythms of the church’s seasons was not something that a part of my spiritual formation. If I’m being honest with you all, there was a time when I believed these ancient practices were a kind of dead man’s religion. After all, where was the Spirit’s work in all of it? For me, there was little to no spiritual value in participating in these kinds of things. Or so I thought.