Posts Tagged ‘communion service’

COMMUNION (first experience of the ritual)

I was in a traffic jam in Burnfoot (small village near home) today, now that only means one thing. A car crash.  I was just driving home, the normal road, as usual.  As I saw the car in front of me pulling to a stop I immediately turned off the radio and wound down the window, listening for any signs that would tell me something of what was happening.  What was going on beyond the string of red lights?  I began to think what should I do, turn, see what everyone else does, just wait, wait to be told. I turned on the radio to Highland Radio (donegal’s home station) just incase they’d give me any clues as to this great mystery.  My senses were on awareness mode, taking notice of every sound, sight, smell.  I could hear a siren in the distance.  Cars start to turn from the traffic, in hope of a quicker root home. But I just stayed put, too interested and worried, maybe someone’s hurt or worse. One thing for sure,  there was something big was going on. Something big enough to effect everyone. Something bigger than keeping travelers happy. Something bigger than 100 dinners being burnt. Something bigger than normality. And it was happening now the feeling was there, this was not a time for someone to blast music from their boombox, or for someone to overtake cars, an edict which you never knew was there fell upon everyone as they waited patiently in an impatient world for an unknown reason but one they knew, because of the trusted blue flashing lights ahead, was more important than getting home before the weakest link starts.

It was in the same spirit that I came to church the first time I witnessed a communion service (I didn’t take communion, just watched).  Something was different.  I was just coming to church, walked in the same door, saw the same people, but something was different. Everyone was sitting in the middle, they weren’t talking in that laughter talk that normally happens, come to think about it, nothing too normal was happening.  There was a white cloth on my pew-book-holder-shelf thing.  My eye’s were wide. My ears were pricked up.  My senses were heightened as I tried to take in this new experience.  

There was something going on here.  Something big.  Something worthy of interrupting the normality of church life.  I didn’t want to miss anything.  People who normally just talked about their weeks before the minister said good morning were in prayer, they were quite, solemn.  I entered into this new territory, almost scared and worried that I didn’t know what was happening.  It was one of those moments I almost knew how to behave in even though I’d never been there before.  I knew not to raise my voice, or to tell a joke, I knew not to ask my Dad why everyone was sitting in the middle but to just follow.  We sat down, my Dad bowing to pray, he normally would teach me new things, why was he not explaining.  Was I the only one who didn’t know what was going on?  I bowed my head and pretended to pray, but really I just waited. Confused. Excited. I waited, not worried but with an engaged sense of wondering.  I trusted the man who sat beside me to lead me into something good, there was a reason he didn’t explain this to me.  The minister began to read from a black book, the one that come’s out at baptisms.  He read from it word for word, carful that every word is well pronounced and that no phrase is missed (which was not his style).  I watched as my Dad, eat and drank the bread and wine in one long prayer like fashion, I looked around watching everyone else, each taking their time, each not looking round them, the only one looking at anything was me.  Even the minister took the bread and wine.  What is this? What’s going on? One thing for sure was that something big was going on. Something big enough to effect everyone.  Something bigger than friendly conversation.  Something bigger than my understanding.  Something bigger than normality.  This was important. 

Communion/Lord’s Supper/Eucharist is a ritual where salvation is remembered and proclaimed.  By being a ritual it is a way of preserving, what is done and said across time and among people of various ideas and understandings.
A ritual protects and introduces.
The ritual of marriage is a way of introducing people to sex and family and protecting sex and family from exploitation. The ritual of burial and funeral rites 
protects the dignity to life lost and introduces the mystery and hope of what lies beyond.  The ritual of a handshake protects one from thinking that another human is worth more or less than they are and introduces them as equals.  A ritual protects elements of our ordinary lives like family, greetings, death, salvation from exploitation, degradation and reduction.  A ritual introduces us to these along with many other elements of life.  You cannot create a ritual, nor can you have a ritual on your own.  It is only something you can enter into.  Rituals are reminders and symbols that we do life with others and that life is something we live not something we have created.  Just like salvation.  It is not something we have made up, it’s something we enter into; nor is it something we can accomplish it’s something we receive.   

So the ritual of eating and drinking Communion protects our Lord’s death from being taking away from the very central centre of our salvation.  And it introduces us to forgiveness and Grace free to those who wish to receive.  It is a symbol and reminder that we take, eating and drinking the bread and wine offered. We receive.  Salvation is not a good idea we’ve made up, it’s not something we can accomplish, it can only be accepted.  Jesus is our only hope, communion stops us from thinking any different.  My Dad knew this, so did other’s in my church, they needed Christ’s forgiveness, they needed to receive.
That Sunday morning I think I discovered 2 things: My Dad was a sinner in need of a saviour and so was my minister! 

We’re all sinner’s looking for forgiveness at the foot of the cross, and there we find Grace.  There we are equals.
Communion reminds us of that.
The Lord’s Supper introduces and protects the death of Christ as the centre of our salvation.

Standing on Grace

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