The Table is Set

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”  1 Corinthians 11:25 (KJV)

Sunday school lessons at the tiny church that I attended as a child taught me that there are two important acts of obedience after a profession of faith to Jesus Christ: baptism and communion. “As oft as ye drink it” is interpreted to mean that a church could decide the frequency. Our church, as most traditional Southern Baptist Churches, served communion on the first Sunday of the new quarter. Experiencing communion four times a year made each one a memorable celebration of love and grace even before I understood very much about about love or grace.

As a little girl, my eyes would fall immediately on the table directly in front of the pulpit. It was beautiful. The table was layered with two white tablecloths that were carefully washed and pressed for the special occasion. The first cloth covered the table. The silver communion trays were then carefully placed on the tablecloth and covered entirely with an additional white tablecloth. There was beauty, with a hint of mystery, surrounding the table.

The table was set! The guests had arrived! Even though I didn’t understand everything that was happening, I could sense the importance. There was a celebratory reverence to the day. Something that brought joy to the heart, a feeling of kinship to the gathering, and a deep longing and memorializing of the King of Kings. Now we waited. Communion would be shared at the end of service. For me, it was like waiting for a finale of epic proportions.

I hate to wait. There were announcements. More waiting. There was praise and worship. Again, more waiting. There was preaching, and FINALLY the wait was over. The deacons, dressed in their best, would come to the table in order to serve the bread and wine. My dad had a specific part of folding the table cloth. It was a tradition, a formality, and a cherished memory of mine. The care of each crease as he folded the cloth preached its own message from a man who was not the pastor. It was easy to “hear” a message of kindness, of promise, and of goodness. Although there was complete silence, his message rang with love. There was a cost being remembered and an unconditional value on everyone invited to the table. Although I do not celebrate communion the same way today, the love I experienced as a little girl around that table has traveled with me. Love has a way of getting in your head. Even when life is unyielding, love is still there.

These reflections aren’t just tremendous memories but stories of something true. It’s part of the mystery I mentioned earlier. Our eyes may be veiled, but love is completely real and alive. On communion days at our sweet little church, we did not have a closing prayer, but we held hands making a complete circle around the sanctuary singing Blest Be the Tie That Binds. We left in silence, bound to each other and the mystery under the cloth.

“Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.” John Fawcett

 

I’ll be continuing to write reflections on communion as I try to understand my own place at the table today. 

 

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