By Mark A. Taylor
“I don’t get to a Christian church very often. I don’t get to take Communion every Sunday. And when I do, I want to hear a word about the cross.”
I still remember that comment spoken to me years ago by a graduate of Cincinnati Bible Seminary (now Cincinnati Christian University) who had long before quit attending a Christian church/church of Christ. Evidently, because he now belonged to a congregation that does not observe the Lord’s Supper every week, he missed it. And obviously, from years-ago training and decades of experience, he knew what was supposed to happen when Christians observe Communion.
When we come to the Lord’s Supper, we’re supposed to obey Jesus, who said, “This do in remembrance of me.” He made the focus of our celebration clear in simple words repeated around the globe: “This is my body given for you. . . . This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
At Communion we remember Christ’s body and his blood and what their sacrifice accomplished on the cross.
But I’m wondering if the reason for Communion is clear in some churches today.
If we make our Communion meditation as short as possible, or present some generic devotional with little connection to Christ’s sacrifice, have we equipped worshippers to remember why we’re partaking?
If we rush through Communion with an army of ushers distributing the emblems within a time limit, have we given the celebration its due?
If we move the partaking of the emblems to a side room or a corner of the auditorium after the closing prayer, have we communicated its import to those hurrying on their way after the service without stopping for Communion?
If we treat the partaking of the emblems like a daily vitamin, making sure every nursery worker with a crying baby on her hip gets a sip in the hallway, have we denigrated this celebration of Christ’s sacrifice to the level of a secret handshake or a meaningless ritual?
If we mindlessly repeat the same Communion service week after week—the same Scriptures read, the same procedures for partaking—have we made our observance into just another ceremony?
And if we continue to partake week after week while harboring resentment or anger or suspicion toward other Christians in the same room with us, aren’t we like those Paul warned (1 Corinthians 11:29), “those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ “?
Blessed by the body of Christ, I have participated in many Communion services that reminded me afresh of what we’re celebrating, and why. I need those reminders.
I need to remember that my righteousness, as impressed as I might become with it, “is as filthy rags.”
I need to acknowledge that my hope, sometimes dimmed by distractions in the world, is in Christ alone.
I need to see again, among all the images assaulting me in these multimedia times, a clear picture of how Christ fulfilled God’s plan for all people in all time.
I need to focus on the cross. And my weekly Communion observance may be the only time I’ll guarantee that will happen.