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Communion Meditations (2012)

Manners

Originally scheduled for December 16

Apparently St. Paul had some difficulty with the Corinthians on the rowdy way in which they celebrated Communion. He was obliged to impose a little dignity upon them.

Parents understand this quite well — children must learn to be civilized. You start out with a baby. When they get hungry, they scream. When you feed them, they stuff their faces as rapidly as possible, as full as possible. Despite your very best efforts to anticipate this and to meet their every need, they show you absolutely no gratitude whatsoever.

Eventually, of course, the baby becomes a child. A certain primitive set of manners is imposed. The child no longer screams when hungry, for example. After a little discipline and training the child no longer stuffs his face as full as possible as fast as possible. Gratitude? Well, that seems to come a little bit later. Those of you who are parents of young children, do not despair.

What about adults? It’s our expectation that adults should be polite at meals, in whatever form fits the occasion.

For example, we expect adults to wait patiently and quietly until the food is served. It’s our expectation that they eat with decorum which is appropriate to the occasion. It might be a backyard barbecue full of fun, or it might be a solemn, formal dinner, or anything in between. No matter what the occasion we have an expectation of proper conduct. In particular, we anticipate that adults will express proper gratitude, both for the meal and for the surroundings in which they find themselves.

Have you ever considered that the Lord’s Supper has a similar set of expectations for good behavior? We are to wait for it with anticipation — and patience. We are to take it in a worthy manner, showing a proper, solemn respect. In some churches there is music playing; others, not. But if there is music it is appropriate to the occasion.

What may surprise you is that a certain amount of gratitude is proper on this occasion as well.

·         The fact that you are in church at all implies a certain freedom — and not all Christians have it. You should be grateful for the fact that you can meet in an open church meeting.

·         Of course, the central purpose of the meal is to remember the death of Christ. His sacrifice for you is the occasion of the greatest gratitude. Why? It is the greatest exhibition of love that man has ever known.

·         Beyond that, you should have a heart of gratitude for the fact that by this sacrifice you are given salvation.

For those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, blessed are they — for at this meal they shall be filled.

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