Invitation to Christ’s Table

Throughout the years it has been a blessing to have taken part in the Lord’s Supper with many different Christian believers, in many different churches, and in various locations. It seemed each church had a different tradition of observing communion. I remember visiting the small country church of my grandparents where my papaw was one of the men who served the communion. It was interesting watching him pass the plates with the bread and juice. I could tell it was a serious moment because there was no smile on his face, where normally he would always have a smile for me. On another occasion my family was visiting friends who attended a different church denomination. For some reason I was not yet allowed to take part in the communion, maybe because I was too young, but regardless, I was extremely jealous of my older brother because he was able to take part in eating the bread and drinking real wine from the small communion cup. To this day, I have a vivid memory of him taking tiny sips of the wine, maybe to take his time enjoying this freedom to drink wine as a young teenager. While serving as missionaries in Alabama, our family worshipped occasionally at an Episcopal church where every Sunday the congregation came forward to take part in communion, and in their tradition one could either receive the bread from the priest and dip it in the cup, or take the bread and drink from the communal cup held by the priest. I imagine they were hoping the Holy Spirit would strike down any cold germs passed on with sharing the same cup! I remember one particular Christmas Eve service at a church I served in Roanoke. It was the 11 pm service and the sanctuary was packed with over 500 people coming forward to take part in communion through intinction, where you take the bread and then dip it in the cup. As folks kept coming forward, I began to worry that our loaf of bread would not be enough for all the folks lined up. I began to silently pray there would be enough bread. By the end of the line, we had just enough bread, which was in my mind a Christmas Eve miracle. My most special memory of the Lord’s Supper was when Melanie and I were able to take communion during our wedding ceremony; one of the first things we did as a couple was to remember our Lord and the blessings of our shared faith.
I imagine you also have many special memories of taking part in the Lord’s Supper, whether at Zion Baptist or other churches. Where there may be different ways and faith traditions of observing the Holy Communion, the only instruction Jesus gives us is “do this in remembrance of me.” We take part in the Lord’s supper to remember the story that started it all. Brett Younger in his book, Time for Supper, writes “when we eat the bread we remember a love beyond any love we practice. We meet God at the table and see ourselves more honestly. We see how we ignore hurting people by doing what is safe. We are quick to join negative conversations and slow to speak positive words. We become too preoccupied with our own agendas to remember Christ’s story. When we drink the juice we remember that we need God because we can’t make it on our own. We need God to teach us to give, because we do not share well. We need God to make us kind, because we are not as caring as we should be. We need God to show us how to love, because we do not love enough.”
This Advent Season we are all invited to Christ’s table. In fact, we will have the opportunity to take part in the Lord’s Supper on our first Sunday of Advent as well as our Christmas Eve Celebration. It will be a time for us to not only remember the story of Christ that happened 2,000 years ago in the past, but to experience the presence of Christ here and now in our lives. We will remember not a part of the past, but the evidence of the present—not a God who is gone, but a God who is here. May we all take time this Christmas season to remember the blessings of Christ in our lives.
Peace and Joy, Matt

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