Communion time has always been the most challenging part of a Church service for me. Being the reflective moment it is, I have to actively dive inward for self-examination and prayer. But at the same time, Communion always seems to come either at the middle or end of the service, so then we’re struggling between the thoughts of what Christ has done and how it’s almost time to go home.
Attitude counts, but attitudes are complex.
What attitudes are displayed in the Bible during Communion moments?
During the Lord’s Supper, Judas Iscariot came to the table with an attitude of deceit, hoping Jesus would think he still meant to love and worship him, when his real intention was to do no such thing. Have you ever come to Communion or Church while not really wanting to be there? Maybe you feel like you’re being dragged there or you’re just trying to make someone happy by being present.
Simon Peter came to the table with an attitude of self-confidence and self-assurance, believing he had what it took to be a true disciple and to pay the ultimate price. Jesus prophesied just the opposite, saying he would deny him three times and run. Do you ever look across the auditorium and think “Yeah, that person really needs this”? Perhaps you feel you’ve been attending and participating for so long that you’ve arrived at some kind of point where you’re…good.
The disciples approached the table with a divisive attitude, arguing which of them was the greatest. To help them understand what truly mattered, Jesus, the Great King, stripped down and cleaned them as a slave would, teaching them that in God’s eyes, you must serve to be great. When I’m with my fellow Christians, we really enjoy talking about all aspects of Christian life, and it’s a great bit of fellowship fun, but at some point, we begin to ask “What are we really accomplishing?” and that’s usually when the talk moves to what can be done that’s truly meaningful.
Finally, in 1 Corinthians 11, the more well off Christians came to the table with the attitude of “Hey, I’m here, I’m hungry, let’s get going.” Paul wrote and told them that taking communion or fellowshipping like this was an unworthy manner of participating. Do we take these Christian community moments made of mercy and make them exclusively personal? The concept of “personal relationship” with Jesus has done its share of harm to how we understand and do Church.
When Jesus came to the table, he took in every moment and made every word count. He knew he was headed towards the cross; he knew it wouldn’t end there, yet it had to be endured. The New Covenant had to be established and his body and blood would be the price. He spoke of loving and serving one another while preparing himself to demonstrate it on one of the horrendous death tools ever invented.
While once visiting a Holocaust museum, I entered a room and just halted in shock—it was filled with thousands of old shoes belonging to nameless victims. Just as that last supper led Jesus to the cross, Communion time leads us to the cross, and when that death tool looms large above us, it stops us in our tracks and shuts us up. If we allow, our attitudes are reshaped in the presence of Christ’s love in his death and our hearts are prepared to believe and receive his grace and truth in order that we may become his body, the Church.
Attitude is everything. What we put into it plays a big role in what we take away from it. Whether you’re attending a Holy Thursday service or a Communion service soon, go and participate because Christ’s death shapes us all together for life together and life, vibrant and meaningful, is something we all long for. His death is only the beginning; pursue and partake together of the life that starts in Christ.