October 7th, 2018

Making 'Sense' of God
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Most of the time I take it for granted but, every now and then, I still find myself amazed by wireless technology, by all those devices that are interconnected without the use of wires. I guess these devices amaze me because I’m old enough to remember when wires connected almost everything.

I remember our family’s first phone. It was a large, bulky apparatus connected to the wall with a thick, heavy wire. When you picked up the receiver you immediately heard the voice of someone who said, “Operator,” and when you told the operator the number you wanted she would use her switchboard to connect the wire from your phone to the phone of the person you wanted to call.

In those days we never dreamed of a phone without wires. But now almost everything is wireless including your smartphone, your computer, you television and your Alexa.

Sometimes, when I start thinking about all those wireless signals zipping and zapping around me I get a bit overwhelmed. It seems like all those wireless waves should fry you from the inside out or at least turn up your toenails but, of course, they don’t. They’re perfectly safe. So I go ahead and trust this technology even though I can’t see it or touch it or explain how it works.

To some extent, that’s the same way I relate to God. I can’t see him, touch him or explain how he works, but I trust him with my life. Why? Because he works – because even though I cannot see God, I know he makes a difference in my life.

Yes, faith calls upon us to relate to a God we cannot see. But don’t you sometimes wish you had a God you could see, a God you could perceive with your five human senses? Don’t you ever wish you could actually see God’s face, or physically touch God’s hand, or hear him speak to you in a deep resounding voice?

Perhaps that’s why Jesus said to his disciples, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

In the early history of Israel, the Children of God kept having a problem with idolatry. Time and time again, the Israelites kept going back to the worship of idols.

Now as strange as it sounds, I think I understand why idol worship was so appealing to them. You see, you can see an idol. You can touch an idol. An idol is a god that can be perceived with our human senses. That’s why the Israelites kept going back to idolatry. It was a lot easier for them to believe in a god they could see than to believe in some unseen spirit.

But God commanded his followers to worship him in spirit, to cast away all graven forms of his person. He told them to believe what they could not see, to devote their lives to worshiping what could not be perceived with the human senses.

So my question this morning is this: How can we make sense of God? Is there any way we can perceive God with our five senses?

Believe it or not, communion is a way for us to experience God with our senses. Communion gives us the chance to touch God, to taste God and to smell God.

When we see the fleshly color of bread, we get a physical sense of seeing a God with skin. When we feel the bread break within our hands we get a physical sense of the broken body of God. When we see the red color of the juice we remember that Jesus bled when he was cut, and felt the pain of the nails as they went into his flesh. Yes, communion even allows us to encounter God with our taste. Ultimately, communion reminds us that God is not just out there somewhere. God is with us. And when we swallow the elements of communion it reminds us that God is actually in us.

I think that’s one of the reasons Jesus gave us communion. He gave us a way to focus on God with our senses, our sense of smell, our sense of taste, our sense of touch and our sense of sight. Yes, communion is our way of making “sense” of God. For when we taste him, touch him, smell him and feel him, it reminds us that he’s not just an invisible god way out there somewhere, but he’s a real, loving being who wants to be personal and intimate, with you and with me.

Ben Weir, a Presbyterian missionary to Lebanon, was captured and held hostage for several weeks. During that time, he often wondered if he would survive.

In relating the details of his captivity, he tells how difficult it was to believe in the God he couldn’t see. In his confinement, he often prayed to have a vision of God. He prayed for God to come to his jail cell and be with him. Finally, he got the vision he had prayed for, and he got it in the strangest way. He got it in the act of communion.

He said, “Every Saturday night, I would save a small piece of bread from the evening meal, and use it on Sunday morning to celebrate personal communion. When I looked at the bread, it reminded me that even though I couldn’t see him, God was there with me.”

Several years ago I heard the story of a father who was putting his young son to bed. After the youngster got tucked into bed a thunderstorm erupted. Throughout the storm, the little boy kept running into his parent’s room and they kept sending him back to his own bed.

Finally, the father said, “Son, don’t you believe God will take care of you?”

Quickly the child responded, “Oh yes daddy, I believe God will take care of me; but sometimes I just need a God with skin.”

Perhaps today, you need a God with skin, a God you can touch or hear, or smell or taste. If so, let me invite you into this act of communion. In this act you can encounter a God that is perceived by your senses. Today, as you participate in this act of communion, let the taste of the bread, and the smell of the juice remind you that God is not just some unseen spirit. God is here. He’s here in the bread. He’s here in the juice. And when we consume these precious elements we are remind that God is in us. Or as Paul said, “God in us is the hope of glory.”

Through communion we can understand what the Psalmist said in Psalm 34:8, He said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

Yes, the act of communion is our way of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. Communion is our way to finally make “sense” of God. So join me today as we see, and taste, and touch, and smell our way into the holy presence of God.