Heath Hollensbe

This is the official website of Heath Hollensbe. Heath is a Seattle based follower of Jesus who is learning to love his neighbor as much as he loves himself. And here's where he blogs about it.  

Leaking Sippy Cups At The Communion Table

Luke 22:19 - And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

This blog was a result of me reading these mind blowing words of Jesus. I encourage you to read them.

Growing up, I remember always going over to grandma's house for holidays. It was a rare time that the entire family would get together for a huge meal, games, etc. There was one weirdness to her house that I can remember - she had one room full of furniture... covered in plastic. Each time we visited her house, we were reminded this room was "off limits to children."

As a child, I remember wondering what that room was for. At 31 years old, I still don't get it. And now that I have children of my own, we have very different philosophies on furniture in the house.  Our furniture is not perfect. The couches have various colored stains and markings and springs popping out of the bottom of it. The carpets are dirty with an assortment of unknown spots of various geometric patterns. Our kitchen table has blemishes, crayon marks, and even a few gouges from when our oldest decided that he wanted to venture into the effects of knives on wood. Admittedly, while initially it's frustrating to see perfectly new table become destroyed shortly after it is purchased, over time, I find it to be beautiful. It paints a story of our children growing up. It tells the history of our family. There are memories gouged and scratched into that table. Each one flashing back to memories of laughter, conversation, frustration, anger, chaos. If you want a very honest sense of the chaotic mess of my family's house. Just look at our furniture. 

This got me thinking to the way that most modern churches display their "furniture". The objects that tell their history. The baptism tank. The offering plates. The pews. The communion table. 

I've seen many churches place their symbols in a position that, while not directly saying it, implies that those items are very similar to the furniture that my grandma had in the off-limits room. They are exalted and put high on the stage as to signify that they are to be set apart. Holy. Untouched by the hands of mere common people. They are ornately dressed, to be looked at, honored, respected and rarely used (think expensive china in the china cabinet).

Unfortunately, when I see the way Jesus has reached out his hand to us, and invited us to his table, the story looks very different than what most "churches" are modeling. The Scripture I referenced earlier calls us to invite the outcasts, the forgotten, and those who reek of last nights alcohol consumption. 

Sadly, I think many churches miss the mark on communion. In my observations, communion has become a  somber moment meant to be quietly, introspectively  individually processed between you and God. We say that it is "communal" in the sense that everyone is doing it, but not in the sense that it is being done together. Very different. 

Oftentimes it appears that the way we come to the table is as if we have stopped reading the Bible at the Crucifixion. So of course, if the story ends there, we are in deep trouble. Who would not be discouraged if the story ended there? We would all feel Sad. Depressed. Failed.

Like Jesus has left us. 

Fortunately, we are on the other side of history. We know the truth. Christ died. Rose. Ascended. And is coming back.

Communion, should be a foretelling of the wedding feast that is to come (Rev 19:9.). We should remember the death of our Christ. We should remember that a sinless man was brutally butchered, and the blood is on our hands. It was our fault.  That should evoke gratitude, and a somberness. In fact, Scripture reminds us that we should not take of this meal lightly. It should affect us.

However, the story does not end at the death of Jesus. it is so much bigger. Do this in "remembrance" of me, not "in memoriam" of me. 

We cannot cut the narrative of the gospel short. Unfortunately, often times, when it comes to communion, we do. There was a sadness in the story. But that sadness is not the end. This good news is for everybody. Everybody is welcome to come to the table. The table should be approachable. This is a foretelling of a feast to come. It is a celebration. 

Because of that, I am not convinced that the communion table that we finally get to sit at with Jesus is going to be a table that is covered in plastic and off limits. I am certain, that instead, it will covered with crayon marks, leaking sippy cups, and sticky spots from grubby little hands. It will be noisy and chaotic and beautiful. It will be a celebration, a story telling session, of a bunch of jacked up people forever rejoicing that finally they get to be with the one that their heart has always longed for.


Our Consumerism Mentality Regarding Acts 2

And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (Acts 2:43-47).

This is really fascinating verse. This is also verse I've heard taken out of context numerous times by numerous people. My fear is that we as Americans have come to this verse with a consumer mindset, rather than one of really trying to understand and live out what this verse is saying has happened.

We all desire to see that "every day their number grew as God added those who were saved".  however, if we're being honest,  very few of us want to live in a way that this verse describes before that line.  Myself included.

There are a few points that I think must be noted:

First, it was God who added to the numbers. Not man. (Sorry attractional churches). It was not necessarily the things that the believers were doing that added to the numbers. However it does appear that their actions created an environment where God chose to add daily,  but in no way does this verse give glory to any man for the growing of the church. 

Secondly,  there were many things going on around this time. It's almost as if there was a perfect storm brewing for God to grow His church. Read the earlier part of this chapter for more context. 

Third, people in general liked what they saw. The way that Christians were living was appealing to those people that didn't know Jesus. It was the kindling that God would use to add. 

My concern is that we want to see "God added those who are saved", without being willing to  sacrifice in a way that our early family members did. Are we willing to sell whatever we own and pull our resources so that each person's need is met? And not just once, but as a lifestyle?  We like the way that sounds in theory. Practically though, forget it. Are we willing to go after the American idol of "family" and "family time",  and spend every day together with one another in celebration? Are we truly willing to live in wonderful harmony? Pursuing reconciliation rather than running?  Are we really willing to live together. In community. As family.  

I've heard many pastors speak on this verse with very shallow challenges to living this out at face value. The challenge is often given as icing on the cake. As if we should try to desire this, IF we can fit it into our normal everyday schedule.

Gospel living should interrupt our schedules.  It should take precedent over the isolating "American Dream" lifestyle that we so easily fall into. The gospel must dictate our schedule, our finances, our parenting, our intentionality, where we live, etc.  It should never be in addition to the lifestyle that we have currently set into motion. Apart from Jesus, hierarchy is not found in the kingdom of God.

The community of Jesus followers on this earth should look vibrant and colorful and alive. However, often what is often seen is rules, regulations,  and lukewarm obedience to following a set lifestyle that is a breeding ground for legalism.

I want my neighbors to know Jesus. But I am concerned that I'm not willing to do what it takes to make that a reality. And that frightens me.  Because it makes me realize that I love myself and my preferences more than I love the thought of my neighbors coming to know Jesus.  So, do I really love my neighbor as myself? 

Reconciliation: The Way The World Is Supposed To Be

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
— Matthew 5:24

If I were to ask 10 of my closest friends to name the top 10 character traits that they see in me, I am fairly certain that the word "gracious" would not appear in any of their lists. I know this is an issue. I'm getting better. Definitely growing in this area. 

In December, in typical Heath Hollensbe fashion,  I commented a few sentences on a Facebook post that hurt some friendships. My words were not grace-filled. They were harsh. And selfish. In fact, so bad that I lost a few really valuable friendships over it. It sucked. Still does. 

A week or two after this post, we sat down, had a conversation and tried to work things out and get to the heart of the matter. That conversation went okay, and we all thought that the air was cleared. 3 months later, it is apparent that is not the case. I was de-followed on Instagram, asked to move out of a business place, and even released from a company that I started with these guys. Losing friends sucks. A Lot. Why? Because It's not the way that things were supposed to be. 

This verse from Matthew 5 shows how important reconciliation is to God. We're told to "leave the place of worship immediately, go to that friend and make things right"… Whoa!

As I read that text this week, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that he wanted to reveal to me people that I needed to be reconciled with. So, I decided to take a few hours of solitude and waited for the those people to be brought to my attention. Some of the friends I spoke of earlier immediately came to mind. So, I reached out. One of the responses back was not what I wanted to hear… There was not a desire to get together and chat and try to fix things. Damn. I did not see that coming. 

I was genuinely heartbroken because I didn't know what to do next. So I got on my phone and looked up reconciliation, and here is the definition:

the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement
— Merriam Webster Dictionary

Reconciliation cannot happen unless two parties are willing and able to pursue it together. Reconciliation is never a one way street. Sometimes, when both parties are not willing and able to reconcile, it can't happen. Tragic. 

Reconciliation should be one of the main things that sets followers of Jesus apart from those who do not. While there is hurt and sin in this screwed up world, Christians should be quick to reconcile. It mirrors the diligence that Christ has in pursuing His bride. It reflects the great hope that we have of Christ coming and making all things new. Hebrews references that peace among God's people actually has a position of revealing God. Amazing!

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God
— Hebrews 12:14

So as I try to press these truths into my own heart, and perhaps share a little bit of what I am currently going through (in hopes that it helps you), I want to be a source of encouragement. Let's be gentle with one another. Filled with grace. Sensitive to one another. Quick to forgive. Thorough to forgive. Because as we grow in this, we become more like Jesus. 

Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
— Ephesians 4:32