Communicating Communion

In the previous post I referred to the distinction that Eugene Peterson makes between two groups of words. The first is words for communication. The second is words for communion. The difference does not consist in the combination of consonants and vowels. The difference, it seems, has more to do with the heart from which the words emanate.

I heard a story many years ago that seems to underscore this. You’ll have to imagine a time that predates the proliferation of mass media, even radio. For entertainment and edification people regularly gathered in community meeting halls to listen to gifted “readers”. By all reports these were often spectacular events.

Near the conclusion of an evening’s offerings a well-dressed, dignified looking gentleman assumed a commanding position in front of an assembled crowd. With distinct diction and a booming bass voice he flawlessly recited the six verses which constitute Psalm 23. The audience responded with vigorous applause. Near the back of the room an older man leaned over to his wife and said, “He really knows that psalm.”

After a moment’s pause an elderly man shuffled his way to the front of the assembly hall, clearing his throat along the way. After stopping along side of the lectern, he cleared his throat one last time. He started to speak. His voice cracked. He coughed involuntarily and stopped speaking. After taking a drink of water from a glass that was handed to him, he began speaking again. Although is voice was weak and could hardly be heard by some, he recited the 23rd Psalm with passion and precision. When he concluded his recitation, the audience sat in stunned silence. The woman whose husband had spoken to her just moments before leaned towards her husband and said, “That man really knows the Shepherd.”

To be sure, the difference between words for communion and words for communication is usually not about the words themselves. It is, after all, out of the abundance of one’s heart that the mouth speaks, according to Jesus. Given the fact that we need to communicate and commune with God and one another, it seems that the most important thing for all of us to guard our hearts, for our hearts are the well-spring of life.

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Blessings to all,

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Bible Study, Blogroll, Christian Living, Christianity, communication, Kingdom Living. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Communicating Communion

  1. Kathy says:

    If our words fail to commune with our own hearts, might we then be simply communicating?

    A thought, Bill. Could it be that blogland has developed, evolved out of our great need for communion with one another in the midst of all the communication chattering away at us 24/7? It seems to me there is a sense of close ties, almost of family within the blog journey and one I’m blessed with daily.

    Thank you for the blessing of your blogs, Bill and those of many of your readers too.

    In my estimation, you’re spot on, Kathy! I think this idea needs to be developed further. Thanks for the prompt.

  2. Neva Cooper says:

    I taught a women’s class last night and touched on a similar subject. We were talking about prayer and I found a quote by Andrew Murray that says “Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God”—Without knowing God, without relationship with Him, our words, our actions are merely a performance.
    Good post, brother.
    How is your weather there?

    Peace and prayers,

    Great quote, Neva. I love it! Unfortunately, I must confess to having been on both sides of it too. My prayer for all is that we will be strengthen inwardly through the Holy Spirit so that Christ might dwell in our hearts through faith. As for the weather, it is cold and windy and snowy. Schools have been out for the past couple of days. The kids are loving it. I was out making rounds earlier and didn’t have any problems. About 15,000 people in our county were without power for most of yesterday. Starting about 50 miles north of us, however, things are quite treacherous.

  3. Keith Davis says:

    That to me is what living the Christian life is all about. Living for Jesus is not about the rules and regulations for religion (cool alliteration), it’s about knowing intimately the one who gave us the Word.

    When people get with us, do they really know our Savior by the way we are living around them? I think that’s a good question. I guess I’m trying to say that we have the opportunity to commune with Jesus all of the time. It’s not a “service,” but a relationship.

    I also agree with Kathy about how this “blogland” has come about. It offers a place where we feel free to commune. I know that this year, Lord willing, I plan to go to Pepperdine again. Except this year I’m wanting to go for much different reasons. Sure the lectures and worship times will be special, but the most special thing is going to be the opportunity to be with many of my blog family.

    You’re right on target, Keith. Interestingly, I’ve attended a different function each spring for many years now. This year, however, my plans are to travel to Pepperdine for precisely the same reason. BTW, I like your alliteration above. Your question: When people get with us, do they really know our Savior by the way we are living around them?, cuts to the heart of this matter. Alternatively, I have heard the idea expressed this way: When people look for God, they look first for the people of God. Great input, Keith! Thanks!!

  4. DulceDiana says:

    Wow. What can I say? Great post!!

    Thank you, DulceDiana. Blessings to you and yours, -bill

  5. Jennifer says:

    It is striking when I have encountered those in my life who I can say, “They truly know the Lord.” I remember reading Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” and feeling this way. I feel this way when I am with my grandmother, whose life is one that would bring people to think that they are blind to see this Jesus who is walking right next to her. The distinction you are talking about makes me think of Proverbs when he talks about the fool who shows everyone he is a fool by opening his mouth to speak. And then how Jesus said he only spoke what the Father gave him. Seems to me this might have something to do with what we are talking about.

    On a more personal note, I needed to hear the shepherd’s psalm today and thank the Spirit for places of refreshing. Peace to you.

    Isn’t it great when God puts these sorts of people in our lives? I’m glad you shared your thoughts about your grandmother. I agree with you re: the contrast that is so often drawn in Proverbs. The beginning of wisdom is to hold God in reverential awe! Peace to you, as well. -bill

  6. Wow. I have read three different blogs today and all three were on communion or baptism. And very good I might add.

    Bobby Valentine

    Thought about several times on Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you’ve heard all the Valentine’s Day jokes that have ever been told, huh? Glad you stopped by! -bill

  7. Maggie says:

    Thanks for the blog today, Bill. That Psalm has come back to me at every weak moment in the last 3-4 years. It is intirely significant that I caught up on your blog today.

    Many Blessings for obedient and timely writing,

    Hope all is well with you, Maggie. May you feel and know the working of God’s Spirit in your inner being strengthening you so that Christ might dwell in your heart.

  8. cwinwc says:

    To borrow a phrase from a Lucado book, the elderly man spoke with a “gentle thunder.”

    That’s it exactly! Any of your flock in Gatlingburg this weekend?

  9. Greg England says:

    I’d not heard that illustration in many years so thanks for refreshing my memory. My grandmother and, later in her life, my mother were people who knew the Shepherd. Intimately. My wife is one who knows the Shepherd, as was her mother. There is no one I’d rather be around than one who knows the Shepherd. And there is no place I’d rather avoid than a gathering of those who know the Word but never met the Shepherd. Those folk will beat you up pretty harshly. Proof?

    This illustration has gotten a lot of mileage through the years, hasn’t it. Your observations have been true to my experiences, as well. Blessings, -bill

  10. frank says:

    Great illustration. One of my favorite verses. That is always my prayer, that I am communicating to others as one who “knows” the Shepherd and not just one “who knows about” the Shepherd. Great thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing your prayer, Frank! May your heart and prayer be shared by all who communicate God’s Word to others.


  11. Maggie says:

    Thanks, Bill. He “MAKES” me lie down in green pastures…yup, just like when I “MAKE” my kids take a nap…same general idea, I do believe!

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