If you come to Grace, you know that we serve communion (or the Lord's Supper) every Sunday. And before we - as a group - practice the corporate discipline (or Sacrament if you desire) of Communion, we have brief thought by one of the pastors.
Some may ask a couple of things: First, why do we do this every Sunday and why do "lay people" serve it, not pastors of deacons? Second, why do pastors always talk about it before we celebrate it?
To answer the first question/s, we celebrate every Sunday for two simple reasons: we are commanded to celebrate communion, but never informed about the frequency by which we are to commemorate. In Acts, the first church broke bread every day, so we're toning it down a bit - especially since we don't meet every day. Also, some of us come from denominations that celebrate communion every Sunday, so it feels more familiar.
The reason why we have "lay" members do this (which, by the way, the pastors hate that term "lay" because it is a false and unbiblical dichotomy) is because Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that every Believer has the right and responsibility to do do ministry. Pastors are commanded to equip them to do ministry. (If you'll remember a couple of weeks ago, Rick actually apologized on behalf of the staff for doing too much ministry, stealing it, if you will, from the Membership!) At Grace, we really believe in the phrase "Every Member a Minister" because it's biblical. Pastors teach, equip, guide, lead and counsel; but a very important and specific thing we're commanded to do is the equip. This is a topic for another blog someday!
BUT, why do we always briefly talk before Communion? We don't have to - there's no command there. It actually eats up about 3 minutes into Rick's message. But we like to do it because it sets the tone. We give instructions: look in the back of the bulletin at the top. But we tie communion into the message Rick will preach on and we do it to encourage everyone to be earnest in their celebration. Recently, I read Dallas Willard talking about the Church leadership's responsibility in helping disciples to follow courses of action that will help them become more like Christ. One of them is to earnestly love and be convinced of God's love for them. But we need to learn to do that. Wrote Willard:
“How do we help people love what is lovely? Very simply, we cause them, ask them, help them to place their minds on the lovely thing concerned. We assist them to do this in every way possible. Saint Thomas Aquinas remarks that “love is born of an earnest consideration of the object loved.” And: “love follows knowledge.” (Divine Conspiracy, 323)”
So that's why we do that.
We want people - the Redeemed of the Lord, after singing and hearing of the songs of the Redeemer, to think how lovely He is, how loving he is, and how loving he shall always be of us. We want you to be earnest and eager to attend to this remembrance with the rest of your brothers and sister for whom Christ died and to both enjoy him and know that you are enjoyed.
Towards the end of the American Civil War, William Featherstone wrote these words that - perhaps - some of you may be familiar with. It is a love song. In fact, you cannot sing them with earnest unless you know what it means and mean the very words you sing:
My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; for thee all the follies of sin I resign; my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
I love thee because thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree; I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
I'll love thee in life, I will love thee in death, and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath, and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow: If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight, I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright; I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow: If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
So that's why we have a three minute talk right before Communion: to encourage each other to squeeze a bit more of love for Jesus.
So this Sunday. Love Him more. Show that you love him more. Nothing is more important or more elegant or more proper or more desirable than for the Bride of Christ to give attendance to our Lord.