What are your earliest memories of communion services? In the church where I was raised, communion was not something I ever witnessed. The regular service would come to a close, the children (and adherents I guess) would all leave, and the members would share communion. I don’t remember giving communion much thought as a kid, I was just glad to be able to go to the gymnasium and fool around with my friends. I don’t think I had a clue what was happening.
Going through a catechism class, and getting baptized changed all that…after the baptism service I saw and participated in communion for the first time. It seemed very mysterious to me. While I took communion, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to feel or what it was supposed to mean to me.
I’m still working on the mystery part of that. I have a better understanding theologically of what we are doing, but symbols have power precisely because there is some mystery involved. God is working in us in ways we can hardly understand or imagine.
This week we are going to be sharing communion, and in my sermon I am going to be talking about mystery. “This is my body broken for you.” How does taking communion change us?
This week’s prayer: Jesus, as I prepare to participate in communion this Sunday,
open my heart to your mysterious presence in my life, in our community.
We have higher expectations, I think, for worship services on special religious holidays. We want the Christmas eve service, the Easter service, the Good Friday service, to “put us in the zone”…the spiritual place that we would like to be in.
The amazing thing is that God can do miraculous things. God can take a person who is totally preoccupied and concerned with many things, and in the context of a service, touch their heart through scripture or music or whatever. This does happen. It has happened to me.
However, I know from experience that if you enter a worship service in a busy and bothered state, it’s very possible that you will feel busy and bothered throughout the service, and leave feeling busy and bothered. God didn’t perform a miracle, your heart wasn’t moved in any way, and you feel let down.
What will this Good Friday service be like for you? I think the degree to which you will find it meaningful is directly related to how you have prepared for the service. Have you thought about what communion means, and whether you are in right relationships with people? Is there anyone you have offended that you may need to apologize to? The week leading up to Good Friday was a difficult one for Jesus with extreme highs and lows. Have you thought about what it was like to walk in his shoes? Reading chapters from the gospels can help us imagine what it was like for him. Have you considered where you are at in terms of your relationship with God…close and connected, or distant and disconnected, or maybe just vaguely connected? What are your deepest hopes for your encounters with God? Have you prayed about this recently?
God can perform a miracle, and give you a meaningful service on Friday with almost no work on your part. But God will not always rescue us from spiritual laziness. If you come prepared to worship, prepared to encounter God as you enter the sanctuary, God will meet you there.
This week’s prayer: I know you are calling me to worship, Lord. Prepare me to worship in spirit and in truth.