Poured Out

I took Communion yesterday.

No biggie. Just a regular, “every Sunday” kind of thing now that Joan and I worship with a Lutheran congregation. 

In my United Methodist experience, Holy Communion was usually only a once-a-month event. But if you are forcing me to be honest, I’ll tell you I really prefer consuming the Body and Blood as often as possible.

And in Communion, just like anything done regularly, ritually, and repeatedly, there can be a tendency for hearts and minds to glaze over when the first syllables of “Lift up your hearts” are intoned.

For some reason yesterday, though, I found myself uniquely attentive. I was really paying attention to what was being said as the pastor went through each step; from Invitation, to Prayer, to Epiclesis, to Words of Institution, to Distribution, to Closing Prayer. 

In that unique state of attentiveness, the words that struck me were: “poured out,” as in, “This is the blood of Christ, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  

Over the many years that I have taken communion – and all the times that I have served as the LEADER of that holy celebration – I realized I have been guilty of misplacing my attention. That is, I think I have been paying attention to the wrong part of the above sentence.

The thought that struck me yesterday is that it really isn’t about the pouring out… even when those two words are dramatized with an actual pitcher of fermented (or unfermented) grape juice being tipped over and poured into a chalice. 

Yes, Jesus poured out his blood (i.e., his life)… in an historic and particularly spectacular way, as we read in the Scriptures. 

But guess what? We ALL pour out our lives. Our pitchers start out full. They are tipped over by the handle. They are poured out. And eventually, one day, our pitchers are finally emptied.

The real kicker is: POURED OUT FOR WHAT?

Richard Branson’s, Jeff Bezos’, and Elon Musk’s lives are being poured out for the accumulation of billions of dollars of personal wealth and (apparently) the private exploration of space. 

Joe Biden’s, Mitch McConnell’s, Nancy Pelosi’s, and Kevin McCarthy’s lives are being poured out for the accumulation and exercise of political power. 

Patrick Mahomes’, Tom Brady’s, Aaron Rodgers’, and Russell Wilson’s lives are being poured out for the attainment of football excellence. 

Bono’s, Sting’s, Cher’s, and Don Henley’s lives are being poured out for the sake of musical creation (and all the trinkets that come with it, we might surmise).

Jesus’ life however, as he tells us in his own words, was poured out, “for the forgiveness of sins…” (Matthew 26:28), “…for you…” (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:24), “… and for many.” (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24). 

In other words, in this tidy, powerful testament, Jesus names not only the PURPOSE his life was poured out for, but the intended BENEFICIARIES

Hearing that in the fresh, attentive way I did yesterday made me stop and ask myself: “Hey, Russell… what exactly is YOUR life being poured out for? And for whom?”

GREAT question! And not particularly an easy one to answer for a retired guy. 

So maybe I will just close this out by asking turning the question on you: what is YOUR life being poured out for? And for WHOM?

Abundant blessings;

4 Responses to “Poured Out”

  1. July 12, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    Good question, good food for thought.
    I so want my life to be poured out for Jesus, like the expensive ointment Mary poured out over Him before His death. That’s not reality for me right now, but is a goal.

  2. July 21, 2021 at 1:38 am

    This is the second time today that question like this has been raised (to me). The first was in a very good podcast a friend sent early this morning. I listened to it twice–on the way to work and on the way back home. If you’re interested, Timothy Keller Sermons Podcast by Gospel in Life, July 5, 2021.

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