Walking across English countryside, you will see miles and miles of dry stone walls. Have a look on youtube for an insight into the amazing way these walls are constructed. Works of art, but hard, hard work. So when you read in Exodus 24:4-8 of Moses getting up early, and building an altar and twelve stone pillars, try to get your head around the enormous skill and physical effort this must have been. Then the young men were summoned to slaughter and prepare some young bulls for sacrifice. Again, this was no easy task. I’ve never been up very close to a young healthy bull, and I can’t say I want to. Especially if it catches wind of the fact you are about to kill it. Then the butchering – again requiring much skill and physical effort.
Have you ever made a list of the things people have to do to organise a church service? Especially if they haven’t got their own building, but even if they have… Who sorts out the heating, opens the door, arranges the furniture? Who organises and practices the songs and music, the words, the instruments, the PA system? The advertising? The web site? The newsletter? The refreshments?…It’s a very long list before you get near the convenor or preacher. Yet many of us arrive at the last minute, plonk ourselves down and avail ourselves of all these efforts, without a thought. We’ve come to worship haven’t we?
Then comes the communion – someone has laid it out ready; someone introduces and helps us focus on it; someone prays. Someone serves it; someone cleans and puts away the vessels afterwards. And we receive it with grateful hearts.
You may be a ‘somebody’ who puts a lot of effort into helping prepare a good environment where people like me can worship, be refreshed in God’s word, and participate in all that a church offers. If so, thank you for all that you put into it. I want to recognise your work and appreciate it. And I’m sorry I don’t always acknowledge your effort enough.
But you know, there is a greater commitment than any of these things. Moses and his team worked extremely hard that morning, preparing to meet with God. But the young bulls gave more. They gave everything they had. As their blood was sprinkled over the people to purify them and make them fit to do business with Almighty God, did they give a thought to the lives wrestled from those big robust creatures? And as we participate in Holy Communion, do we really, really grasp how much it cost Jesus to make us fit to enjoy fellowship with Almighty God? Sometimes church folk can get weary of all the ‘jobs’ that need doing to keep the place going. But let us never forget how much Jesus gave so that we might be there.