Last Sunday I took part in communion at the church I’m attending. They did something “different” for this particular service. In the Baptist tradition, the cup and bread trays are passed out among the people. The congregation members stay in their seats and the trays are passed down the pews. This time, the pastor directed the parishioners to come forward to accept the cup and bread near the communion table. Two leaders stood next to each side of table. One held the communion wafers and one held the tray of juice cups. Each individual approached them to take the bread and the cup and remember Jesus.
When I was a minister in the church, it was a sad tradition that whenever something was changed in the traditional worship, it stirred up members. They would make faces, shake their head or make mention of it in the next council meeting. In one church, I passed out the juice trays in the wrong direction and was reprimanded. In another church during the summer, when attendance was less than half, we served communion by intinction. With absolute certainty, one or two deacons would reprimand me in the deacons’ meeting. During communion this past Sunday, I watched the parishioners when it was announced how communion would be handled. Sure enough, I saw people roll their eyes, shake their heads and one person behind me said, “I don’t like this.”
I sat in my pew and watched the people come forward. Thankfully, most took it in the honor and respect it was meant to be. People were going forward to partake in the Lord’s Supper. We were going forward to the table. The table is not our table. This table is the table of Jesus Christ. We were invited to come to THAT table. Jesus sacrificed his life and before he did, He set up this tradition of the Lord’s Supper. (1 Corinthians 11:23:33 We were invited to HIS table. He was NOT invited to our table. Can you imagine when this past Sunday, or those Sundays I mentioned earlier, when we honored Communion at a table with the following words etched in the side, “In Remembrance of Me,” – can you imagine how Jesus felt when He saw those smirks? When he heard the people reprimand me? When He heard people complained that they had to get out of their comfy pews to walk forward? Jesus died on the cross, after being judged, ridiculed, beaten and shamed. Yet, people complained about getting out of their seats.
I want to remind people that when you come together to take part in the Lord’s Supper, the tradition is not meant to please you. This ordinance, this sacrament was meant to remember Jesus and what He did for us. We are not to restrict who is welcomed to the table. We are not meant to complain about how it is served. And we are certainly not meant to fuss when we are inconvenienced. The table does not belong to Joe or Jane Parishioner. The table does not belong to ABC Baptist Church. The table belongs to Jesus. The least we can do is honor Him and remember what He did for us. If we “sacrifice” something along the way, so be it. Jesus certainly sacrificed enough.