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partake of the … fruit of the vine” sounds awkward, and we can not seem to find any other acceptable expression but the outdated one.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.”