Alone and together

Pastor Tom Jeske

We need to be needed. We need to band together.

“You don’t know me. You haven’t experienced my loss and pain. You don’t know my people’s story. What could you possibly have to say to me?”

Well. We do come from different towns and time zones. We have different tastes in music, fashion, and food. We have different tones of skin and speech. You happen to be

divorced, or
in the military, or
the adult child of an alcoholic, or
good at sports, or
a breast cancer victim, or
into video games, or
other (explain).

But I am not any of those. How could I understand you?

That list tells who you are and what contributes to your fierce individualism. That list also labels me and puts me on my own, alone.

These individual hearts, yours and mine, require a cause. What’s your reason to get out of bed, to get dressed, to go to work? Perhaps you need to cope with misunderstanding or face opposition. Why are we willing to endure pain? In other words, we need to be needed. We need to band together.

“The true brotherhood is . . . the communion of saints, in which we all are brothers and sisters, so near to one another that greater nearness could never be conceived. For here is one baptism, one Christ, one Sacrament, one meal, one Gospel, one faith, one spirit, one spiritual body, and each one is a member of the other; no other brotherhood is so deep and close.”*

We express that unity in the Lord’s Supper. But one woman said to her pastor, “What I do at communion is between God and me. I know that there are other people present, but they don’t speak for me or I for them. My religion is so very personal that others don’t really factor into my Lord’s Supper.”

“Just as bread is made by crushing many grains of wheat together and the bodies of many grains of wheat become one loaf of bread, in which each grain loses its own body and form and takes on the common body of the loaf, and as the grapes similarly lose their own form and become one . . . wine, so must we if we rightly use the Sacrament.”*

That woman’s “God and me” idea is a biblical one. But hers is not the whole picture. For after I anticipate a communion table for two—God and me—he gives me peripheral vision to see the diversity of my brothers and sisters in the faith. Communion is not just God and me, but the whole family of faith at the table.

“Out of love, Christ . . . takes on our form and fights with us against sin, death and all evil, so that we, being kindled with love, take his form, trust ourselves to his righteousness, his life and blessedness, and so through the fellowship of the good that belongs to him and the wretchedness that belongs to us, we become one loaf, one bread, one body, one drink, and all is common. Oh! What a great Sacrament this is, that Christ and his Church are one flesh and one bone.”*

We are all different. Is there any hope for me to understand you? Our t-shirts and rubber wristbands may read NASCAR or Tour de France or Race for the Cure, but

“. . . through the selfsame love we should be transformed and should accept the infirmities of all other Christians and take upon us their form and their afflictions, and give to them whatever we can, that they may enjoy us. This is the right communion.”*

That they may enjoy us—alone and together.

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Living Hope Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE