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Cruciform Communion Meal
First Course: Taken
Article by Brianna Millett
You are perfectly loved by God.
You are joyously Taken.
You are immeasurably Blessed.
You are sacrificially Broken.
You are generously Given.
I have become convinced that these four words are the answer to our deepest longings. They are the healing balm to our wounds of rejection, fear, hopelessness and unworthiness. This 4-Course Cruciform Communion meal is the holistic life that expands shalom, unity, healing, hope and love. And we begin with the first course – Taken.
What does it mean to be Taken? Henri Nouwen suggests exchanging the word take –“which is a somewhat cold and brittle word and, instead, use a warmer, softer word with the same meaning: the word choose.” So whether you employ the term Taken or Chosen is simply a matter of personal preference, the implications remain the same. Because of this we can ask, what does it mean to be Chosen?
“To be chosen does not mean that others are rejected. To be chosen is something radically different. Instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness.” This, my friends, is the feast of our chosenness – of the chosenness of every human being; the adulteress, the tax collector, the thief, the terrorist, the Calvinist, the Open Theist, the gay, the straight, the mamas and the papas, the widow and the virgin, the enemy and the friend! Come and indulge—You Are Chosen!
Just like the already-not yet paradox of the coming Kingdom, so too it is with this first course of the Cruciform Communion meal. You see, we are already chosen by God, and we are becoming the chosen of God. You are children of God by nature (Acts 17:25ff; Gen. 1:27) and as you enter into relationship with Christ you are becoming sons and daughters of Christ (Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:5).
The full measure of our chosenness is manifested only as we respond to Christ and enter into a loving, transforming, altogether beautiful relationship with Jesus. Only when we turn to the Lord are we transformed into the same image “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).
To carry the conversation even further we may include the word ‘Called’ alongside ‘Chosen’ and ‘Taken,’ for I submit to you the implications still remain quite similar. “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me” (John 6:44). And we, then freely choose to respond to the call. “God calls the world into being, and so the being of all that exists is a response to that call.” The Spirit will never coerce us into coming to the Father, for what kind of love is a coerced kind of love? In order for love to be sincere it must be freely chosen.
The God who is Love calls, and to that call we freely respond.
Theological aesthetics intimates this idea of call and response quite well. In seeing the character of God through the lens of beauty, this first course of the Communion meal can be universalized. I’m willing to bet that most of us, if not all of us, have had encounters with beauty. We run to the wildness of the mountains and delight in colorful bouquets of nature’s blossoms; we behold the wonder of the night sky and catch our breath at the candy-colored sunset horizon. Beauty touches us deep within; it calls to us. French philosopher Jean-Louis Chretien articulates, “What is beautiful is what calls out by manifesting itself and manifests itself by calling out. To draw us to itself as such, to put us in motion toward it, to move us, to come and find us where we are so that we will seek it – such is beauty’s call and such is our vocation.”
What is important here is the ordering of the call and the beautiful. Beautiful, kalon, is what comes from a call, kalein. God’s call precedes the pronouncement of beauty. Just as we respond the call of beauty with our “oo’s and ahh’s,” so too we respond to the call of God’s love with our “Here I am!”
We are already named God’s chosen, but we must courageously and boldly respond by claiming it as our own. Maybe you think it’s too good to be true. Maybe you think you are not worthy to respond to God’s unbridled call of love. More often than not we reject the feast and, instead, gorge on the crumbs of insecurities that scream at us, “Your sin is too great. You’re nothing special. You’re not enough. God would never choose you.”
Oh, dear reader, come back. Come back to the Communion Table. Dare to claim and reclaim your chosenness! Silence the commotion and listen to your heavenly Father calling to you: “You are altogether beautiful, you have ravished my heart (Song of Songs 4). I love you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31). You are a new creation (2 Cor. 5).” Allow these songs of celebration to heal your wounds of rejection, calm your fears and fill you with all the hope that is Christ!
Taste and see, feast upon the goodness of this first course of the Cruciform Communion meal.
Take, and eat. You are forgiven. You are wonderfully made. Take, and eat. You are image-bearers of Christ. You are precious in God’s sight. Take, and eat. You are called. You are chosen. Take, and eat. You are loved.
Brianna is an adjunct instructor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University, a preacher at Woodland Hills Church, and a curious disciple whimsically exploring all the things.