This Sunday, June 3rd, I will be leading the congregation at First Baptist as we take part in the mysterious and wonderful sacrament of communion together. This will be the very first time that I’ve ever lead a group of people in communion and so I have been taking time to prepare.
Part of my preparation has included reading scripture and commentaries about communion. I’ve also spent time reflecting back on my own experiences with the Lord’s Supper. I thought that as I was getting ready for my first time leading communion, I could share some of my reflection on how my own experiences have shaped the way that I think about communion.
Lets start off with this: communion is a big deal. Like, a really big deal.
Depending on the tradition that you come from, communion may be the most important part of a church service. And while there are some Christian traditions (like the Salvation Army) who don’t practice communion, the protestant church generally holds on to it as one of the two sacraments instituted by Jesus.
The church where I grew up took communion very seriously, observing it every single Sunday with a separate service first thing in the morning just for the Lord’s supper. My family left that church when I was going into grade 8 and by that time I still had never taken communion because I was not a member of the church, because I was not yet baptized, and because they believed I was still too young to fully understand it.
I remember when we started going to our new church, there didn’t seem to be as much of a fuss surrounding communion. They only did it once a month, it seemed like it was just added on in the middle of the service as part of our worship rather than having an entire service dedicated to it, and most of my peers (and even people younger than me) participated in it. I can distinctly remember sitting with all the young people and for a over a year I just let the bread and cup pass by. It was still so sacred to me, so important. I didn’t know if I was ready yet.
I have a vivid memory of the first time that I took communion. It was at a high school youth event. We had an evening of worship and at the end the leaders had placed crosses at the front and we were encouraged to write things on slips of paper from our own lives that we wanted to give up to God and then to nail them to those crosses. On the tables with the papers, they also had bread and juice set out for us to be able to take communion and to remember Christ and His sacrifice in that moment. I was tentative, maybe even a little nervous. But that evening I did it. I ate and drank and remembered and it was exceptionally meaningful to me.
After that day I started participating in communion each month and I still have a real feeling of reverence and sacredness that comes along with participating. I am very intentional about examining my heart before I take part and keeping my focus on Jesus through the entire process. Without fail, communion is a meaningful act that helps to keep my mind and heart firmly centred on God as revealed in Jesus, particularly Jesus on the cross.
I hope that as I lead the people of First Baptist in this sacred act this week, they will have a similar experience of being re-centred. That our hearts and minds will turn to focus on Christ once again after the distractions of our weeks have tried to pull us off course. I pray that we will experience Christ’s presence among us as we collectively remember Him on Sunday.
Similar to my first time taking communion, I’m a little nervous. It is such a special part of our worship together. But I am also feeling so blessed and honoured to have this ‘first’ experience here at First and to be given the opportunity to serve my church family in this way.