Communing with each other and the Lord

Though the design of a typical assembly room may foster vertical communication, i.e., with the Lord (a type of communication I heartily affirm), we consistently end up looking at the backs of people’s heads.  And such a situation is not communal.  Only in a pitifully few camp and retreat settings have I experienced horizontal aspects of communion.  Pews may come from a Catholic or Protestant tradition, but they certainly do not come from Jesus.

Maybe you are one of the many who prefer to “focus on the cross” in your mind, or on scripture that deals with the crucifixion or on self-examination, or on any number of other inward or upward directions.  All those are good things to do, but they are not the only viable things.

Maybe if we just stopped using the word “communion” exclusively?  This term implies the horizontal aspect at least as much as it suggests the vertical.

Speaking of which . . . you do know that it is impossible to take communion, right?  I wonder if that expression were coined when Protestantism began to rise.  We were not allowed say “take the holy eucharist” any more, so we substituted, somewhere along the way, “take the communion bread and wine,” and then it was probably shortened to “take communion.”

Aside:  Have you ever noticed the awkward mini-pause in prayers before the phrase “fruit of the vine”?  “Bless us, Lord, as we take the bread” comes out fine, but “And now, as we partake of the … fruit of the vine” sounds awkward, and we can not seem to find any other acceptable expression but the outdated one.  We should probably focus less on the substance being taken than on what it represents, anyway.

Siblings, we commune with one another and with the Lord.  Commune. It is a verb.  And communion is not something you “take.”

2 thoughts on “Communing with each other and the Lord

  1. Evan 12/05/2010 / 9:49 am

    There are some very thought-provoking comments here, Brian – thank you for being willing to discuss this topic. I have been struggling with how we participate in the Lord’s Supper (communion, Lord’s Table…etc) for a while. Do many people even remember when it was instituted? They were having the passover meal – a meal…food, true communion with each other. And as they move to the third cup of the meal, Jesus sets up this new ritual of remembrance for us.

    A few thoughts I have had over the past little while about this experience. First, I think there are times for it to be reflective, reverent and even somber. I think other times it can be celebratory and exciting (I mean, we are remembering our salvation with this act). Sometimes the Table and elements can be the entire focus of a single gathering, with worship and scripture entirely centered on the topic. Other times it can be a group of five people at home choosing to remember what Christ has done for them.

    We have done an amazing job of boxing-up this wonderful ritual that Jesus gave us, perhaps it’s time to give it wings and allow ourselves some liberty in the experience, whatever that means at a particular time.


  2. Brian Casey 12/10/2010 / 9:17 am

    Thanks, Evan for reading and commenting when you’re able. You encourage me.

    Passover of course represents such a vital connection for Christians (far above shofars, in my opinion!). As I understand Passover (probably like 2.7% as well as orthodox Jews, but still … ), I do believe there’s a celebratory aspect that comes alive at least when the matzah is hidden for the children to find. And “celebratory” may not always be upbeat, too. We may celebrate deeply and even soberly at times. Like you, though, I think an occasional bit of excitement and energy in the observance is well-advised!

    I absolutely love the mention of “a group of five people at home choosing to remember what Christ has done for them.” This very thing had occurred in our home with six people, about 12 hours after you wrote your comment, and 24 hours before I read it. Cool!

    Boxing-up is typically a pretty bad idea, don’t you think? 🙂


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