New Communion Ware Pictures

It’s one of those things that I took for granted – vessels for the Lord’s Supper. We always had them around at the churches I had worshiped at in the past. It never really occurred to me that there was a Sunday when someone said: “What are we going to use for the Lord’s Supper?” and then went out and bought them. I decided that since that task fell to me that I would seek out a local artist to make something for us. If you don’t know, Stanwood and Camano Island are known for the local art community. It just made sense. Here are some pictures of the vessels made for us by Leslie Whaley at Moonswept Studio:

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You may be curious about the choice of design for the plate/platter. I’ll tell you about the salmon, but first you need to understand the writing. The Greek is from John 6:51 that is translated: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” I chose to have it in Greek because for me it adds to the sense of mystery, tradition, and ancient roots of the Lord’s Supper. John 6 has intrigued me for years ever since I discovered the connections in the story. Jesus wants to take his disciples away to be alone for awhile after days of serving and teaching. Instead, crowds follow him into the middle of nowhere. He has compassion, teaches them, and then miraculously feeds them with FISH and broken bread. After that, he sends the disciples across the lake by boat and Jesus goes up the mountain to pray.

The crowds decide that they are going to create a violent uprising against Rome and make Jesus king. Jesus knows their plans and secretly walks across the surface of the lake in the middle of the night. In a dramatic meeting in a storm on the lake the disciples take Jesus into their boat and reach their destination. In the morning the crowds figure out that Jesus has given them the slip, and in need of more food they follow him across the lake. When they find him they try to convince him to give them more food. Jesus does not do it, but instead tells them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. He teaches them that he is the bread from heaven and that anyone who eats him will never go hungry again and will have eternal life.The teaching is so hard (should we say “repulsive”) that many of his followers, and presumably the entire hungry crowd, desert him. I could write a lot more here about this, but I think I’ll save it for a future sermon. My main point here is that this passage is where we get the best glimpse into Jesus’ early teaching about what the Lord’s Supper really is all about.

So why the salmon? Well, first of all, fish have always played an important role in Christian symbolism and often in early Christianity it is associated with the eucharist (Lord’s Supper). If you want to to read a good article that explains this connection take a look at “Symbolism of the Fish” from the Catholic Encyclopedia.  The one thing that this article doesn’t mention is that many of Jesus’ early disciples were fishermen and they were told by Jesus that they had a greater calling – that they were to “fish for people” (Matt. 4:19).

As for choosing a salmon, I would hope that it would be obvious. We have a lot of salmon around Stanwood and Camano Island! Maybe not as much as there once was, but you will still hear people from all walks of life talking about salmon. Our newspapers always seem to have articles about the connection between salmon and the health of Puget Sound, our rivers, the Native American culture, sport fishing, etc. In the Stanwood/Camano Island area there is some conflict and debate about the “tidelands” and their importance for both the salmon and local agriculture. Since the type of fish has never seemed to be especially important in Christian symbolism it just made sense to have a salmon for Tidelands Church. Beyond that, for me, it will always connect me back to that story from John 6. So many people ate from the miraculous fish, but so few were willing to follow Jesus when his teaching was less palatable.

Kid’s “Church” Art

I had to share some artwork with you (click on an image to see it full-size). During our December worship gathering the kids took some time to make a play-doh nativity after hearing the Christmas story. They also did some drawing.

Church

Drawing by Cameron B. (8 years) of  “the Church”

I couldn’t be more proud of the drawing above! I don’t know if we adults are getting it yet, but the church is NOT a place, it’s a people! So cool!

The next one will require a bit of explanation. Be sure to look at it full-size so you can see Jesus’ face.

Jesus Cries

Picture of baby Jesus by Calvin B (6 years). Notice that baby Jesus is crying.

I had just finished telling the Christmas story, and during the story I let the kids know that Jesus cried as a baby just like all babies cry. Now, it doesn’t say that in the Bible, but it also does not say that Jesus didn’t cry! We know Jesus cried as an adult (John 11:35), and we know that Jesus was fully human and fully God. The fully human baby Jesus surely cried! Is this important? It is important in the sense that Jesus’ full humanity is important theologically. Beyond that, there is the implication that a “perfect” baby wouldn’t cry – bad in so many ways!

You probably noticed the pig as well with the tail that stretches to the sky. I’m not sure where it came from, and my first thought was: “Of all the animals he could’ve picked, he had to pick the one that would be most repulsive to a good Jew!” After a good chuckle I put it away. Later it hit me: Of all the people God could’ve picked to visit baby Jesus he chose the unclean Gentile astrologers (magi) and the physically dirty shepherds! So perhaps a pig isn’t as out of place as I thought at first.

One more picture. This is a picture of the play-doh nativity made by all the kids. Not much I want to say about this other than I love letting kids respond creatively to the Word in our worship gatherings.

Baby Jesus Playdough

Baby Jesus Playdough