Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What Does Holy Communion Mean to You?

I don't know what anyone else perceives during the communion experience. I don't know because rarely do we share. But I know what I experience. I did a little tally and I believe that in my life I've only experienced the sacrament of communion about 1000 times. There are those who've experienced daily communion and totally dwarf my experience. There are those who've only had it once a quarter and that adds up to a hundred or so times. Some even less…some much more. But I am curious as to what people experience at this most holy time of communion with Our Lord.

For me, my perspective is somewhat skewed. Being raised Roman Catholic; all those weekly communion services were bizarre by Methodist standards. I believed that I was actually eating the body of Christ…and becoming one with Him. The notion of actually eating Christ's body was at once strange…and at the same time, wonderfully comforting. I think only a Catholic would understand. But having grown to adopt a Methodist perspective, I see Christ as the host of a great dinner banquet, at which I'm a privileged guest. If I may, let me share.

Communion is, to me, Holy Communion. It is an opportunity to dine with Christ, at His behest, and be in His company. Upon receiving the elements, there is awe, an undeserved place of position, at the side of Christ. It's as if He says, "I invited you, so enjoy and be part of the conversation". But Jesus doesn't want a bunch of baggage brought to the table - NO - he wants joyful participation. That is my perspective of receiving the sacrament, one of joyful participation.

In our UMC liturgy for communion, we say a prayer of confession prior to receiving the elements. At the point of confession, that is where our sorrowful faces need to be. That is where our inadequacies need to be placed at the foot of the cross. At confession, that is where the sadness and personal shortcomings need to be put to rest. From that point on, it is a time of gratitude for being invited to dine with Our Lord. From that point on, there is an excitement about being a special guest. From that point on, we should be totally ready for a great experience, one that cannot be replicated anywhere under any means. Outside of communion, how often does God invite us to be one, with Him?

In our congregation, we refuse to have sad faces at the communion rail. Those are left at the point of confession. When we say the words on page 12 of the UMC Hymnal: "In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven", we accept it - we embrace it - we carry it through the remainder of the liturgy. And at that wonderful moment where the elements are administered, when we actually eat the bread/body, and drink the wine/blood, we are there…there with the disciples at Christ's table.

It is from this moment that extraordinary demonstrations of the love of God are experienced. Prayers are answered, healings are administered, and communion with the triune God is experienced.

If communion Sunday is just another Sunday…but one with that "going to the alter stuff" included…then it is shallow. If communion Sunday is a time of celebration, a time of humble gratitude, a time of empowerment through the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit…then that is what communion should be all about. At least to me.


Questing Parson said...

First visit to your site. I'll be back.

Thanks for such a warming view of the Sacrament.

Being a UM Elder who was married to, before her death, a good Catholic girl, my view of The Lord's Supper is akin to yours.

Brother Marty said...

Questing Parson,
Thank you for your perspective of camaraderie. Rarely do people share their communion experiences - seems to be too personal. I went out on a limb here, but The Lord put it on my heart to share.
Thanks again!

revabi said...

Marty, well written.

I love it that you share it.

A lot of people get so wrapped up in not feeling worthy, and all the body and blood. They forget the other part.

the reverend mommy said...

I've had a member not take communion -- ever. He would just sit and watch, but not partake. I never really found a good time to ask until not too long ago. He felt he had sinned too badly -- I was able to talk to him and share the Grace of God with him. He was reassured and reaffirmed about his salvation and then, only then, could he come to the table.

People sometimes hurt so bad and we never know.

God bless --

Brother Marty said...

Reverend Mommy,

You speak much truth!

It is so reassuring to learn that the Holy Spirit worked through you to reach that person. Based upon what you shared, that person is better for it.

May we all reach out to those who need that personal interaction to help them remove the obstacles to full communion with our beloved lord.

Thanks again, so much, for sharing.

ChriS & Yvette Ferguson said...

Brother Marty,

Since you appreciated Gertrude Ticer's healing Testimony. I am planning to highlight testimonies of healing at least once a week on my blog. Would you be willing to submit a post?I'll give you full acknowledgment of the post and link back to your site. You don't need to post these as comments less you want.