At the church I recently began attending, we take part in a congregational response time before communion. Last week, one of the lines quite literally almost knocked me over as I stood there in the candlelit room, repeating in chorus with the worshippers around me.
We are guilty of coming to your table without understanding the significance of the meal.
I mean, I’ve been a good Baptist as far as communion goes. I pray before I take eat my wafer and wash it down with the little sip of Welch’s. I can even muster righteous indignation at people who fidget or talk while this part of the service goes on. People are trying to pray, doggone it.
But now I go to a church who does communion in a whole different way than the pass-the-plate-down-the-pew style I’ve grown up with. And it has radically changed my views on communion. Exhibit A: this is my second blog about being affected by this new style of celebrating communion.
How often do we do that in life: sign up for something without really understanding the significance? What would happen if you decided to run a marathon without training? For me, I wouldn’t make it .2, much less 26.2. In college, I signed up for Elementary German because after 5 years of Spanish, I was tired of it and I wasn’t going for employment as a translator at the UN. I thought taking German would be cool. I could get in touch with my heritage.
I had NO clue what a quirky language German was or how difficult it would be. I was a good student. I had a great GPA. Until German tried to tank it. It didn’t matter how much I studied. I just plain struggled. I pulled a B, but I don’t know how. To this day, all I can say is “Wo ist mein Topflappen?” and “Mein Traumwohnung ist ein Raumstatzion.” Since I very rarely have to ask where my potholder is or inform people that my dream apartment is a space station, those two semesters of getting in touch with my heritage probably could have been better spent.
I was unprepared for the significance of tackling a completely new challenge. And I think it’s the same when it comes to fully understanding the sacrifice of Christ. The idea of death is just not something we think about in our highly-sanitized world. Remember how long it took before the government would allow news organizations to see flights which returned fallen soldiers home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan? We just don’t get to confront final sacrifices.
The next time you sit at the table, don’t pull up a chair at the far end of the table. Fight for the chair at Christ’s side. Get close. Join the conversation. Understand His sacrifice. The bread and the wine aren’t significant because of dough or grapes. When Christ asked us to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, NIV), He asked us to remember, to think. To come to the table with our full attention.
Take time this week to read the accounts of the Last Supper and think about what Christ tried to teach with that meal. Make notes. Tuck them in your Bible and next time you come to the table, pull them out like your place card. Get a seat at the table that shows you want to better understand the significance of the meal.