Why is it then that when we “celebrate” the Lord’s Supper, none of these images or emotions seem to be a part of the experience? We say we are going to “celebrate” communion but it is often more like a funeral than a birth. Instead of the joy of community (communion with others) we experience a sort of isolated sorrow. It is solemn, reflective and quiet with the appropriate music accompanying the somber event. We tell people to bow their heads, examine themselves and quietly reflect on the Lord. Then when people feel bad enough and sorrowful enough and repent enough we invite them to eat the bread and to drink the cup. It is as if we are saying: “We are the worst sinners in the world and we are lucky (although we wouldn’t say “lucky”) that God is willing to forgive us….so be happy about it!! What happened to the “celebration” part of “Celebrating” The Lord’s Supper?
Recognizing the death of Jesus, and why He had to die, is certainly one part of the ritual. But the focus is also put on His birth and why that is “Good news of great joy for all people” (Luke 2:10); His life including Who He is and What He does and His promised return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I imagine that Jesus, and Paul and the early church envisioned us “Celebrating” looking a lot more like the angels circling the heavenly throne in Revelation 5:11 – 13:
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
We don’t need to be irreverent but we also do not need to be sitting in sack cloth and ashes when we take communion. How do we respond to good news? With celebration. And maybe we need to put back the “celebration” in the “Celebrating” of The Lord’s Supper.
What do you think?
How does it make you feel?
Note: We “celebrate” communion every week at our church. But maybe it is more like we “recognize” the importance of Christ’s death every week than we actually “celebrate.” This Sunday I will preach on “Celebrating Communion” and we will have a special time of celebration. Come join us if you can.