Most of us humans have an issue which robs us of life as God intended us to have life. It’s the propensity to move quickly from stunning revelation to mundane information, from awe to boredom. What or who once inspired and lifted us becomes familiar. We lose our sense of awe…quickly.
Often our lives turn into an awful search for awe. We run from one thing to another with the hope that something will shock us. In many cases, it doesn’t matter what that is. “Entertain me, shock me, inspire me, abuse me, amuse me, stimulate me…the crazier the better.” The result? We become over-stimulated, addicted to stimulation.
We humans need stimulation. We need to take new territory. We need to grow. We need reality, enjoyment and inspiration…in reasonable doses. Without inspiration, great things that once uplifted us become too familiar. We get stuck. While being physically awake, we fall mentally asleep, bored and fragmented. Many trade awe for safety and security. That’s called mental sleepwalking.
This is often the case in religion or church. That’s why people leave church…too familiar, too predictable, too informational, too social, too traditional…too religious! Religion can happen in even the most contemporary churches. It doesn’t take long before we figure out what is going to happen next. The result? We move from reality to religion. That’s not a knock against church. This happens in business, education, media, and government too. It’s a human issue.
As a pastor since 1980, I am keenly aware of how the reality of awe can turn into repetitious religion. Today, let’s look at how awe-less religion can turn into inspiring reality. Let’s explore a sacrament that often turns into religion very quickly. That sacrament is communion. A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance.
Here is a true story of someone who exemplifies the essence of communion. No mundane religion here. It was reality, relationship and revelation. It was authentic, awesome Christianity.
It was related that once when the Duke of Wellington remained to take communion at his parish church, a very poor old man went up to the opposite aisle, and reaching the Communion table, knelt down close by the side of the Duke. Immediately, tension and commotion interrupted the silence of the church. Someone came and touched the poor man on the shoulder, and whispered to him to move farther away or to rise and wait until the Duke had received the bread and the wine.
But the eagle eye and quick ear of the great commander caught the meaning of that touch and whisper. He clasped the old man’s hand and held him to prevent his rising; and in a reverential but distinct undertone, the Duke said, “Do not move; we are equal here.”
Do you know why Christians celebrate Holy Communion? Most of us know what communion is. Let’s explore why it is. That’s where the awe and Aha is.
There are five main reasons for communion. The Duke of Wellington knew the first reason. Communion inspires unity and oneness among the followers of Christ. The Scripture says, “…whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Cor. 12:13. The old labels that we use, rich or poor, slave or free, Jew or Greek, Baptist or Lutheran, are no longer useful. Christ leveled the playing field. We are one because we are equal. We are equal because we are one.
The second reason for communion is remembering Christ; who He is, what He did, and what He does today. Jesus broke bread and said, “This is My body, which is for you; Do this in remembrance of Me.” I Cor. 11:24. Jesus knew our propensity to forgot, to become too familiar and to allow the reality of God in flesh form become boring and religious. He knew how easy it is for us to replace Resurrection with Easter bunnies. Don’t forget Christ. Don’t forget eternal life. Don’t forget the resurrection. The song says, “Who did once upon the cross? Alleluia.”
Don’t fall asleep on the inside while kneeling at a pew on the outside. Communion is remembering Christ, especially this time of the year. Aha! Next week…three more reasons for communion.
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in 10 newspapers all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 450 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing mental perceptions that the community has of the church.