I’m not sure now why I attended the monthly meeting of the local lodge. I had been invited by someone, maybe to pray or see him installed into some office. I don’t recall who he was or any specifics about the evening.
I only remember my reaction to being there.
The whole service was meaningless to me, in spite of the sober demeanor of the lodge members who participated in it. They somberly went through the motions, careful to complete the program “decently and in order.” But none of it communicated anything to me.
Many of these men were members of the church I served at the time. I couldn’t help but notice at the lodge the same serious concern I had seen on their faces in the worship services of the church. They approached this ceremony with the same sense of propriety they brought to an observance I knew better, our weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
I wondered what the lodge service meant to them. And I wondered if the weekly partaking of Communion meant any more—to them, or to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge the value of repeating a familiar practice. We sing “Happy Birthday” to our children every year, and they don’t grow tired of it. We give structure to our lives by always eating breakfast before lunch and the salad before dessert. Like flossing or taking our vitamins, spiritual habits—daily prayer, a Bible-reading plan, tithes, Communion—can keep us healthy.
But it is easy—and far too prevalent, I fear—to approach our Lord’s Supper observances thoughtlessly. Week after week we may go through the same motions without engaging members or communicating with newcomers.
This can be true even when other parts of the worship hour get much attention. We create great graphics and find the perfect video to illustrate the sermon. The musicians rehearse to make sure the music will be wonderful. But, while acknowledging the necessity of including Communion, we may not expect it to be a highlight.
Paul told the Corinthians that by eating the bread and drinking the cup Christians proclaim the Lord’s death. There’s a message in Communion—for the believer, and also for the watching world.
It would be interesting to poll visitors to our congregations and ask them what they heard and saw in our Lord’s Supper observances. Let’s hope their take-away is more significant than what I got by visiting the local lodge.