Three times a month, Jermaine Washington and Michelle Stevens get together for what
they call a "gratitude lunch." With good reason! Washington donated a kidney to
Stevens, whom he described as "just a friend." They met at work where they used
to have lunch together. One day Michelle wept as she spoke about waiting on a kidney donor
list for 11 months. She was being sustained by kidney dialysis, but suffered chronic
fatigue and blackouts and was plagued by joint pain. Because Washington couldn't stand the
thought of watching his friend die, he gave her one of his kidneys. When you've got
something great to be thankful for, having a "gratitude lunch" is a great way to
Today in the Word, November 14, 1993.
Believers dare not come to the Lord's Table except with a repentant heart.
"Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner,"
as Paul puts it, "drinks judgment to himself." That should be a sobering
warning, especially when the apostle adds that because of this offense many have fallen
ill or died. Any pastor who takes the Word of God seriously should never administer
Communion without adequately warning partakers. Those who are unrepentant should flee the
table rather than trivialize the sacred.
And God does not view this sacred act lightly. Pat Novak, pastor in a nonsacramental
denomination, discovered this when he was serving as a hospital chaplain intern just
outside of Boston several years ago. Pat was making his rounds one summer morning when he
was called to visit a patient admitted with an undiagnosed ailment. John, a man in his
sixties, had not responded to any treatment; medical tests showed nothing; psychological
tests were inconclusive. Yet he was wasting away; he had not even been able to swallow for
two weeks. The nurses tried everything. Finally they called the chaplain's office.
When Pat walked into the room, John was sitting limply in his bed, strung with IV
tubes, staring listlessly at the wall. He was a tall, grandfatherly man, balding a little,
but his sallow skin hung loosely on his face, neck, and arms where the weight had dropped
from his frame. His eyes were hollow.
Pat was terrified; he had no idea what to do. But John seemed to brighten a bit as soon
as he saw Pat's chaplain badge and invited him to sit down. As they talked, Pat sensed
that God was urging him to do something specific: He knew he was to ask John if he wanted
to take Communion. Chaplain interns were not encouraged to ask this type of thing in this
public hospital, but Pat did.
At that John broke down. "I can't!" he cried. "I've sinned and can't be
Pat paused a moment, knowing he was about to break policy again. Then he told John
about 1 Corinthians 11 and Paul's admonition that whoever takes Communion in an unworthy
manner eats and drinks judgment to himself. And he asked John if he wanted to confess his
sin. John nodded gratefully. To this day Pat can't remember the particular sin John
confessed, nor would he say if he did, but he recalls that it did not strike him as
particularly egregious. Yet it had been draining the life from this man. John wept as he
confessed, and Pat laid hands on him, hugged him, and told John his sins were forgiven.
Then Pat got the second urging from the Holy Spirit: Ask him if he wants to take
Communion. He did. Pat gave John a Bible and told him he would be back later. Already John
was sitting up straighter, with a flicker of light in his eyes.
Pat visited a few more patients and then ate some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When
he left he wrapped an extra piece of bread in a napkin and borrowed a coffee cup from the
cafeteria. He ran out to a shop a few blocks away and bought a container of grape juice.
Then he returned to John's room with the elements and celebrated Communion with him, again
reciting 1 Corinthians 11. John took the bread and chewed it slowly. It was the first time
in weeks he had been able to take solid food in his mouth. He took the cup and swallowed.
He had been set free.
Within three days John walked out of that hospital. The nurses were so amazed they
called the newspaper, which later featured the story of John and Pat, appropriately, in
its "LIFE" section.
Charles W. Colson, The Body,1992, Word Publishing,