On the Christian calendar, also called the liturgical calendar, the Thursday before Easter is called Maundy Thursday. It is the day where we remember the final meal that Jesus had with his disciples. Just before Jesus was arrested and sentenced to crucifixion, he had one last supper with the men he had called. And during this meal, he imparted some final thoughts about what his life, ministry, and ultimate sacrifice would mean for them. The disciples did not fully understand it all, but they remembered, which Jesus asked them to do.
Over the years I have grown to love and cherish coming to the Lord’s Table. It is a wonderful time because it allows all who have believed in Jesus to remember and be reminded of the Gospel. The simple ritual we participate in does not have to be robbed of meaning just because it is done regularly. This revelation has impacted my perspective of Communion.
Experience has taught me that the reason certain events or activities lose the impact they once had is because we forget the reason it is important. I think the Lord’s Supper has suffered such a fate in many churches. We treat it as something that we MUST do rather than something we are ALLOW to do. Not all get to eat at the table. There are some who have rejected the grace God reveals through the re-enactment of what Jesus did.
This is the secret we must bring back into the open in our churches. When we gather at the Lord’s Table we are there by invitation and not by right. We do not deserve a seat. We have been given one. We are not owed the grace the elements of bread and wine convey, they are precious gifts that we must receive.
I remember the first time I participated in a Communion service where the method of intinction was used. This is the practice where there is one loaf of bread and one cup of wine/juice. Each person comes up and is given a peace from the common loaf and then the bread is dipped into the cup. If you have never done communion this way it can be odd at first. But, after having participated in hundreds of services with this method I prefer it now. The imagery of one body being shared by the church has become both powerful and unifying.
What really sold this practice to me was the realization that came after one of my pastor’s shared how to properly receive the bread. He said something like this:
“In the same way that we receive God’s grace through faith, we receive the bread from the one who serves it to us. And we received with our hands together in front of us. We do not reach out to snatch it out of their hands. It is given.”
That idea, of enacting the process of Grace being given rocked my understanding of what God was doing in my life. It’s like I finally understood what it meant to receive and accept God’s grace.
I am not asking you to agree with me. I am merely sharing with you what I have learned about this beautiful rite we have been given by Jesus. One that I believe we should do as often as we are able.