I was glad to go to church this morning because we celebrated the Lord’s Supper as the climax of the worship service. And instead of being tacked on or hurried through, the entire service led to us to the Lord’s table. We began by singing songs that reminded us of Christ’s death on the cross. The pastor preached a brief message from 1 Corinthians 11 on the importance of preparing our hearts before taking communion. Then we came to the Lord’s table as a congregation. Sitting in the balcony, I was able to watch the communion service unfold. Every church has its own way of handling communion, and that way generally never changes. Some churches are informal, some use wine, some pass a loaf of bread, some call people forward, others pass the elements among the congregation. This morning there were perhaps 35 men involved in serving the elements. When the moment came, the pastor said a few words, one of the deacons prayed, and a piano-flute duet played “Oh How He Loves You and Me” during the passing of the bread. I noted that the associate pastor had come to the balcony to stand behind the table so he could serve the men who were serving those in the balcony. When the bread was distributed, the men formed a line across the front of the sanctuary while two deacons took the trays and served each man at the same time. After the pastor stacked the trays, he served the two deacons, and then taking the bread, he quoted a Scripture, and we all ate together. The same procedure was followed for distributing and partaking of the cup. It was seamless and reverent and beautiful. Afterwards we sang a hymn, the pastor dismissed the Sunday School workers, and then we joined hands while singing a closing chorus.
I tend to look at church through a variety of lenses because of the years I spent as a pastor. So from that standpoint, as someone who has led hundreds of communion services, I enjoyed watching the drama unfold because I know how much work takes place behind the scenes to make the Lord’s Supper meaningful. On a deeper level, this particular service felt right to me because communion was the focus and not an afterthought. To be more personal about it, since leaving the pastorate I have not had many chances to take communion, mostly because of my travel schedule. Now that I am on the road so much, I appreciate the Lord’s Supper in a new way. I see it as a profound sign of the grace that has come to us through the death of our Lord, a reminder that I am part of the worldwide body of Christ, and as a gift that nourishes my soul. That little piece of bread–tiny and crumbled and hard to pick out of the tray, and that little cup of juice that I hold in my hand, together they bring the Lord Jesus Christ to me. It is all by faith and not by sight, and the drama of communion is meant to remind us that we are part of something eternal because we are one with Christ forever. When I was a pastor, I often prayed before communion, “Lord Jesus, come and meet us at your table as we by faith come to meet you here.”
He answered that prayer in my own heart, and that is why I am glad I was in church this morning.