I’ve found spiritual disciplines and sacraments to be tricky. When we first experience and learn of them and practice them they breed life, insight and growth. But I have found over time they can become rote, and the event itself can become the issue more than the fruit and objective, that of getting closer to God.
The Lord’s Table can become this to me unless I really dig into it each time. After all – it is for remembering!
The beauty of scripture is how real and relevant it is today. Paul addresses the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11. Here we find the words often repeated when Communion is served. With the beauty of the words repeated in the sacrament, we also get the finger waving Paul gives to the Corinthians, and us.
Paul reprimands the Corinthians, saying: “I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good” (vs 17). Ouch! They were apparently squabbling and focusing on their differences, and of course that doesn’t happen in the church today… hmm. Then he says that they were not even thinking of the meal itself but, that they turned it into a selfish eating binge with some who had plenty engorging themselves and others who had little being left to watch them and go hungry (20-22). Are there ways we do this today? I wonder…
He then reminds them what this remembrance meal was all about in versus 23-26, the beautiful words that are often repeated during the sacrament of Communion. And he brings us back to not only remember what the Lord did for us, but also to not take this meal lightly. Honestly, I’m not sure I always get this to the depth of which it is emphasized here. At times, it is all too familiar.
The kicker to me is at the end, he encourages us to plan ahead. He says that if you are coming to this as a meal, that you prepare yourself and take care of your physical hunger first so you don’t lose sight of the spiritual filling that is about to take place. To realize this isn’t a physical meal, it’s a spiritual one. It isn’t about our “hunger” represented here by selfishness and disagreements and getting my way, my own stomach filled. But rather to take care of myself so I have the ability to be able to see and wait for others and come together in unison to receive the spiritual filling we need.
I hope to stop and deeply remember this at my next Communion. To be properly ready for it and take in the proper depth and significance. To understand the unity of the body, and the corporate nature of it being aware of those around me, and to be ready to properly receive the personal benefits of this spiritual feast, in order to go and feed others.