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Communion 2010

Drill and Ceremonies

Originally scheduled for May 2, 2010

Veterans of the US Army will recall – probably not nostalgically – the rigors of FM22-5, the Field Manual for Drill and Ceremonies. The Army has a manual for everything; this one touches every soldier. Why?

The uses of drill

Any soldier will tell you why you repeatedly practice drill: practice gets it right. That’s important for the individual soldier, but as drill also touches the unit it is important to whatever unit you are in. You drill as a team, you perform as a team. This is important to armies of all times; chaos being a regular feature of military life. When chaos arrives you fall back on what you have been drilled to do – even though life has become illogical and there is no one around to tell you what to do.

More importantly, drill forms the habit of obedience. Without that obedience, no team can function correctly.

The uses of ceremony

Ceremony has its place, too. Ceremony unites the individuals performing it, much like the cast of a play. More than that, ceremony instills a sense of belonging on those who participate. If you’re marching on parade, you are part of that unit.

Ceremony also focuses the mind on the purpose of the ceremony. If the ceremony is to honor someone with a medal, all those marching honor the recipient. The ceremony also declares that honor to the world at large, those viewing the ceremony.

Communion

The church is often described as the “army of God.” If so, Communion is its drill and ceremony.

By our repetition of Communion, we repeat our repentance – and therefore become proficient at repentance, a most necessary skill.

Because we take Communion together, it unites the church. One Lord, one faith, one birth, one holy meal – these show the oneness of the church.

This ceremony honors Christ’s sacrifice; we remember his death. Communion focuses our mind on the atonement.

This ceremony also declares that atonement to all who see it, for we declare the Lord’s death until He returns.

Many will tell you that ritual – drill and ceremony – is empty. But think back to the last time you heard “Taps” at a veteran’s grave; or the last time you sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” Remember the lump in your throat? Is that empty and meaningless? How much more meaningful, therefore, must the Lord’s Supper be to all who believe?

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