Sunday, March 9, 2008

Celebrating Cyber-Communion

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. (Revelation 3:20-NLT)
When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you..." (Luke 22:14,15 - The Message)


Two phrases in these verses stand out to me...

“…we will share a meal together as friends”,

and

“You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you…”

Revelation 3:20 wasn't written to an individual, but to one of the seven churches in Asia Minor (Laodicea), and what strikes me about the way that it is translated in the New Living Translation is that Jesus says His desire is simply to "share a meal with them as friends". That's why He was knocking at the door of that particular church...just to be invited in to sit informally at the table with them...like friends!

Then, the way that Luke 22:14 is phrased in The Message appeals to me because of the way He says "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating...with you".

Even though these two verses are talking about two different things, they both show an interesting aspect of Jesus' personality which is universally relatable. He apparently wants to have friends to eat with.

Today I've been reading and re-reading some of your responses to the last article, 20 Questions (btw, the picture is from the set of the 50's game show of the same name), and I've been thinking about how a daily blog site is really like a virtual-reality table, around which people can break intellectual bread together in cyber-space on a regular basis.

Those of you who know me through CITN know how much I love all the Christian sacraments...I love to baptize people in water, I love to dedicate babies (especially when I am their family's pastor), I usually enjoy performing wedding ceremonies, and when there is a real connection, I even love to serve others as Jesus did when He washed His disciples' feet. But nothing is more significant to me than communion, or the Lord's Supper, and I especially enjoy serving it in an informal, almost primitive context, where it seems like a real meal shared among friends, instead of like a sterile, religious ritual.

When Jesus said to His disciples, "THIS is my body", He wasn't just referring to the actual bread that He was breaking for them. "THIS" meant many things on many levels. "THIS" meant those twelve men...that very diverse, somewhat rag-tag group of fishermen, tax collectors, anarchists, and misfits whose common bond was their connection to the Christ revealed through Jesus of Nazareth. The real communion wasn't the physcial bread and wine symbolizing his body and blood as much as it was the subliminal, indefinable connection of those people around that table. And on a deeper level, "THIS" also meant (and means) a meaningful exchange that is an event or a unique "Christ-moment" in time.

Many of you have expressed that you appreciate how this blog gives you a chance to connect with me on a personal, informal level...and to connect with one another on a spiritual level...and I appreciate that you perceive this medium that way. I think that BLOGINTHENOW sort of embodies my philosophy of ministry, in a sense. By that I mean, I value (and need) my privacy, but I don't require the protection of a posse or an army of "armor-bearers" to help keep a distance between me and my flock. I don't want to have a series of counseling appointments after every service at CITN, but I do like to stand at the door and thank everyone for coming, and to shake hands with (or hug)everybody and touch the people in a meaningful way. I'm not all that interested in making a lot of idle small talk, but I do like to converse with friends and hear their views on things...I love ideas and thoughtful diaogue, and especially revelation...in a word, I love people, and if you are "people", I love you!

There's a reason why I don't live in a gated community and why my kids go to public school and why I fly commercial when I travel. Don't get me wrong...my house isn't open for people just to drop by whenever they feel like it, and you do have to make an appointment to see me at my office...but that's really more about good manners and professionalism than anything else. The bottom line is, I want to be respected, but I don't need to be revered. I am comfortable with the notion of being the pastor of a mega-church, but I don't need to think of myself as a celebrity. I have a healthy self-esteem, but I never forget that the fivefold ministry gifts are the servants to the Body of Christ.

My point is, many of you say that you like having this format to talk to me, and I say, "rightbackatcha!" This blog site is kind of a contolled environment where I can effectively communicate with friends...a table in an upper room, if you will...and I like being here. I don't mean to sound disrespectful to the traditional concepts of communion with actual bread and wine, but really, every time there is a "manna"-exchange here on this site, there is a form of "communion" celebrated. Where two or more are gathered together on-line in His name, there He is in the midst of them...if Jesus is Lord of all, then He is also Lord of and in cyber-space!

Anyway, you're all welcome here, and I hope that more will join us here in the future...there are unoccupied chairs at the table. More than anything else, I pray that you will encounter and commune with the Christ every time you log on.

By the way, for those of you who are already regulars, you may want to know that I added 10 new songs to the playlist today. Hope you enjoy!


20 comments:

Erik said...

Hi,

The 1st song that came up on the shuffle when I refreshed the site is the ‘Power of Love’ , excellent, then seeing Bishop added some songs, was glad this was one of them. Immediately brought me back to when it came out. – The Power is Irresistible – I love that. I lose myself, come to myself in that power. Thanks again.

Communion has become a place / time that bares everything in me. In these last months, weeks every time I have been consumed by Communion here, at church, and having Communion with friends and loved ones, focusing on the connection with God, The Christ through the connection with each other – phenomenal. I am glad – ‘ Now Happy Day ‘ is playing, of course.

Eating, drinking, sharing sustenance is a basic, daily need to live. Sustenance physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually is all necessary. Communion provides sustenance, builds up, edifies. That’s what this site does.

That is what sharing the physical Communion with others does combined with the emotional, spiritual, and mental aspects. Taking Communion in the bread and wine activity with friends and loved ones has been something really nourishing to me. This might be a bit edgy for some, but combining Communion with emotional and physical intimacy (not necessarily in the complete physical intimate sense, but not to the exclusion of that either, I’m just saying) having Communion and The Song of Songs together, even if it is a verse or two of the Song ( all appropriate issues for a situation here:) ) really rocks. Putting God, The Christ in the midst of The Song (however many verses depending on the situation) establishes a whole new dimension of living. I can see the complete Song with bread & wine Communion, with praise and worship, as something Adam & Eve had with each other and God between them – Indefinable Connection. This is not limited to them, but always available. I cannot fathom what benefit they saw in the rock and the leaves.

This same level occurs with The Song in a spiritual sense here. With God first, and then the chord between all of us, as we sing in this ‘place’ and in other places, becomes the Communion that we share figuratively in this ‘Upper Room’ . He IS in the midst of us. The three fold chord plays through our souls.

The unoccupied chairs are filling. Anyone who is here, and has not spoken up, please do, so we can all enjoy what you have at the table, as we sustain and edify each other. The Christ, bigger than any concept we have, is entwined with all of us, flowing, dancing, eating, drinking with us to the rhythm God speaks.

** As I end, ‘Spirit in the Sky’ begins, HS is so funny in a cool way.

Ebony said...

You say all the time that the cross is two beams, vertical and horizontal. We're connected to God though Jesus and what he did (and if you haven't read my post on the official church blog, the message today was Amazing! I had to admit, I was wondering where you were going at first with the Jesus/Jacob comparison b/c of the meaning of Jacob's name, but I followed and it was beautiful, just beautiful.) , but connecting to each other seems to be so hard, so we have chruches divided by denomination, by race, by s.e. status,when we're all supposed to be one. So I think it's cool that you have a blog because you give us the Word at Church (vertical beam) and we can connect with you as a person here (vertical beam), and at Real Women, Nexus, etc. No man is a island, and everyone in the body of Christ is important, if we aren't' connected we don't work the way we're supposed to. Hezekiah Walker said it best "It is His will that every need be supplied. You are important to me, I need you to survive"

DoubleBack Alley said...

All I can say is thank God for Al Gore. If not for him, there would be no global warming or internet. Enjoyed the broadcast today. Lot's to think about, not sure of it all, but I don't have to be, you know? Another beauty mark on the site.

The word, "Cyber" was applied to an early group of computers manufactured by the Control Data group. Cyber now refers to anything computer related. Pretty heady stuff if you were the guy who invented the name. I imagine Christ feels the same way. What an honor it is to say that the Christ is in me and I get to say cyberpathically.

Ain't God Good?

peacemaker said...

Just got back in town and to my computer and boy, you can miss alot in a couple of days. I may try and answer some to the 20 questions tomorrow when I have a little more time.
"Cyber-Communion', that's a good way to put it. Sharing a meal is probably the second most intimate thing people do together. In Jesus' day, friends and family didn't sit formally around a table, they lounged, almost laying down. They were totally relaxed and their guard was down.
Whenever good revelatory, insightful, dialogue is exchanged here, it's like each one bringing a covered dish to the table and passing it around for everyone try. If what you shared isn't really someone's taste, there's plenty more to sample. But whether you care for everything or not, the fellowship and intimacy of being at the table together far transends any differences in taste, so bring what you will, I promise you it will be just what someone has a taste for.

PM

Donald said...

I had typed up answers to the 20 questions yesterday and when I hit the publish button, the server crashed. I just didn't have time to redo everything, but on the question about community I mentioned something that might go here better.
Since I started streaming several years ago, I have actually stopped attending regular church services here. That is not really a good thing because the communion that I always enjoyed with my friends at church is now practically nonexistent. I still see some of them around town and we will usually have a pleasant exchange that I believe is genuine.
I can certainly see where communion can be more than the traditional wine and bread (Welch's grape juice and crumbled up saltine crackers where I was raised) ritual. I always enjoyed that time too, but see where communion is an on-going event and not just on every 5th Sunday or whenever it is observed.
I enjoy the interchange that is allowed here because it in a small way replaces some of the physical interchange that I have always enjoyed having with my friends.
Bishop, your entries are always inspiring, but I also enjoy reading other's comments, and actually look forward to seeing if anyone will play off someone else's comments and get a good dialogue going (not argument).

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Erik, I love that the songs are so meaningful to you...they certainly are to me...

Ebony, thanks for the good word. You said vertical twice and I think you meant vertical and horizontal, but your point is well taken...always glad to hear from you...

DBA, I don't know where you live, but I wonder...are you where global warming has left a blanket of white all over your area? This blog site would be much less without you...

Great imagery, Peacemaker...I like the covered dish idea...

Donald in Mississippi...you're all up in my heart. Your post on the CITN site was very humbling...

I'm honored to take this communion with all of you!

Avatar said...

I'm just finding "If Everyone Cared", I think its one of the new 10. Anyway, it asks an interesting question, would we see the day nobody died? I had forgotten that was included in the lyrics. "The Impossible Dream" just came on. Oh my!


Cyber-communion Christ-moments. Cool. And "time" is irrelevant here too. It's always now here.

Anonymous said...

I pulled a chair up to the table this morning, and I have been fed. Reading all the comments, hearing the playlist and knowing how sincere you are. Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!

LP in SC said...

So happy and priviledged to be "breaking bread" with all of you! Still in awe upon pondering yesterday's message, Bish! Whew!!

Had one of my strange morning-brain moments before getting out of bed today. A weird sort of analogy developed from it.

I was thinking about my dogs, whom I love like children, and how dependent they are upon me. I want them to be healthy, so I feed them dry kibble... no table scraps to upset their stomachs. Sometimes the kibble changes, but this, too, must be gradual so as not to upset their systems.

The 'milk & meat of the Word' came to mind. I began pondering comfort-zone Christians, and how dependent they are... how they need to be led w/out trying to seek for themselves, and how content they seem to be at picking over the dry kibbles and bits. Perhaps on occasion they encounter a juicy morsel, and maybe some of them actually DEVOUR it because it is GOOD. But others spit it out, because it is foreign and scary... and might upset their stomachs!

I will continue to feed my beautiful girls kibble to keep them healthy. They are dogs, after all (maybe... jury is still out on that one). But when I am being fed, I have NO desire to pick over the dry! I want the meaty and the juicy. I'm thankful that you love us (your flock/children/friends) enough to be led of the Spirit, and to feed us the best that is made available to you. We are growing STRONG!

Teezy313 said...

Hey!
Bish yesterday was a serious rain of manna!! It was so good I went and got a CD and brought it back to school with me! I just loved worship yesterday before and after the Word as well as overflow around the fire. Very ggod stuff! Thank you Jesus that you took Adam's birthright!!

Cyber communion...wow that's a deep concept that I had never really thought of. I guess if Jesus is Lord of ALL and ALL WORLDS then the cyber world is no exception! I take communion on a daily basis with God and with the cyber community better known as "Bloggers In The Now" whether I know them in the physical or by the Holy Spirit that obviously dwells here. You are the parts of Christ that I can't see or grasp alone..the revalation of His word that I can't get alone...the corporate body of individuals yet who are really one body...

Blessings to ALL!!!

Avatar said...

That was cool typo Teezy: "Very ggod stuff!" Did you plan that?

Izumi/JOY said...

The Grill: Firing up Adobo Barbacoa

Savory vittles:

Adobo = a dish of marinated vegetables and meat or fish; served with rice

Barbacoa = a meal, usually in the open air and often (as a political or social gathering) at which meats are roasted over an open hearth or pit.

Here’s what I’m thinkin’ about Romans 5:12 - All lost in Adam; all recovered in Christ. The comparison of Esau to Adam (meaning red) was interesting.

In culinary terms – raw vs. burnt offerings (I.e. Jacob/Christ via the generations of Abraham) as atonement for sins.

Loved all the references to Biblical symbolism & the admonition that not all things are symbolic or metaphorical. Amazing how often symbols convey Scriptural parables, though.

Re: Isaac's need to touch Esau & Thomas feeling the Lord’s nail-scarred hands suggests that both relied on tactile reminders vs. faith. This kinda reminds me of Matthew 18:19.

Also, in Genesis, God clothed Adam & Eve in coats of skins.

Spiritual & physical realms reflect each another it seems. God covered the souls of His children as well as clothed His spiritual Son w/flesh.

Much to consider.

Here are some thoughts, in no particular order: Jesus gave His back to the scourgers. This whisks me over to Exodus 33:23 where God covered Moses’ face with His Hand & allowed him to see His back parts. He described this as His goodness. Isaiah 52 mentions how the Lord’s visage was so marred that nobody could recognize Him, anyway.

Maybe that’s applicable even in today’s terms.

The reference to Jacob wrestling with an angel & Jesus dying on the cross suggests this to me: Both prevailed with God, the Father.

I understand how Jacob’s Bethel (house of God) was Jesus’ Gethsemane (a very fat or plentiful vale/valley/world/earthly life).

Still wondering about spiritual symbolism, such as Isaac = earth. Does that equate to Psalms 126 or, the joy set before Jesus? Does Rebekah = Holy Spirit mean the direction/voice through which Jacob moved?

Loved the mention “camouflaged in God/time”. Laughed when I read the translation, “mottled design” (spotted rods?) or mask, blind, front, cave AND fabrics of concealment; in application to the Word becoming flesh.

Enjoyed the mention of Christ being born in a manger (trough, stable or barn in which cattle are fed) and remembered (from junior high French class), that “manger” means “to eat".

While, in nautical terms (for the depth seekers) a space (having a partition for confining water) at the bow of a ship through which a cable is passed.

This pulls me back to the teaching on the word “quavah”, connecting w/ the word “harness”, somehow.

OK... Jesus stole the birthright back from Adam. All day, I’ve considered how He was flanked by two thieves. Jesus being the gravest of robbers!

I realize it’s not humorous (though it is joyful) but you know what made me laugh out loud about Genesis 33:14? Jacob’s sojourn w/his family when he encountered his brother Esau & his massive entourage. Ooosh alert!

Jacob set his family in order & bowed 7 times (significant) to chat w/his brother, Esau (the hairy, wooly, shaggy one, OR incomprehensible & annoyingly complicated).

He asked for peaceful passage for his family & cattle until they met again @ Seir. Guess what I discovered? Seir means hairy, goat, demon, treacherous or tempest!! ACCK!!! No wonder Jacob was hesitant @ their reunion.

Thank God they pressed on towards Succoth! (tabernacles)

Teezy313 said...

Hey Avatar,
No that wasn't planned haha

=]

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks, all y'all...Izumi, loved your entire post, but "Jesus, the gravest of robbers"?...priceless!

Izumi/JOY said...

Thanks Bish. I don't know about anybody else's journey. But, sometimes, when I'm reading Scriptures, they become so real, that I crack up laughing at the discovery.

My "aha moment" occurred after I heard you quote Ps. 119 about finding great spoil.

My sisters & I spend a lot of time focused on spiritual stuff. Some of it's hysterically funny.

One was going through a traumatic experience & declared to the atmosphere, "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME!"

Then, she heard a still, small voice reply, "Yes. You can. But who told you to?"

I had a similar encounter about a week later, during my own challenges.

Like my sibling's scenario, I yelled in my living room, "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENTHENS ME!"

And a still, small voice replied, "Yeah. But not all in one day."

Neither one of us knew what the other was going through, until we began talking about the Word & how it applied to our daily routine.

Yvonne said...

Good Morning Bish, the songs are beautiful, the people behind the words are family, the spirit behind your articles are simple truths with ribbons of revelation and light. What a huge thought to believe that every day we can have communion through visiting the Blog in the Now! This too is one of the unprecedented manifestations of a "I amness" event that Kelly Varner prophesied almost 5 years ago. I bless you and your dreams and visions and revelations and words. There is light! Did you see the manifestation of the Glory cloud on Sunday, just wondering! love,Yvonne

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Hey Yvonne...yeah, I read your other posts, and, yes, actually, several people told me they saw it. It's been a while since I've heard that, and I really don't know what to say about it. As a matter of fact, I'm reluctant to talk about it too much because...I don't know why, I just am.

A few years ago I was ministering in Bogota, Columbia, and people kept coming up to me after the meeting and telling me through the interpreter that they saw a blue light surroundiing me, and I didn't think that much about it because I honestly assumed it was just an illusion from the lighting. But for a couple of weeks after I got back home, people at church (including first time visitors) kept coming up to me after church and telling me they saw a blue light surrounding me (and I hadn't said anything about what had happened in South America). But they described it exactly the same way that the Columbians did.

Whatever that was, it stopped after a few days, and I don't talk about it much because...well, just because.

You said that you had talked with Pastor Al...he told me what he saw Sunday, and it was very interesting the way he described it. I also read what you posted about the glory cloud, and in the past I have taught that that was exclusively an Old Testament manifestation because now the glory is inside of us...but lately I've been rethinking that. I think the cloud can still come in (externally) to a geographical location, and that He even can still speak with an audible voice.

Basically, I've stopped overthinking things like that, which is why I interpreted that message in tongues Sunday. I'm very open to the Holy Spirit right now, and so I have to open to unusual manifestations, and not be rigid about the Scriptures. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives light!

Thanks for being persistent about getting a response on this.

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

...I meant to say the Spirit gives LIFE (but He also gives light)...

Avatar said...

lovin' the typos (smile)

Yvonne said...

Yes sir, I really did not mean to be over persistent, I guess I was more excited than anything else and reading through those scriptures was confirming some words I spoke in ministry over the past couple of days. Yes it was old testament but very relevant to what the holy spirit is ministering to me, maybe that is why He allowed me to see it! You have begotten after your own kind Bishop, which is to study to show ourselves approved...Anyway, I do over-analyze things, especially when I have an interest. I guess that is being child-like, as in why this, why that! But thank you for taking the time to share about the life and the light and a manifestation of God's presence! Oh, no, I didn't have the opportunity to speak to Pastor Al, Pastor Gloria blogged on the CITN's church comment section and said that they both saw the cloud of God or Glory cloud, just for clarity sake! Peace and blessings!
Yvonne