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
What about adults? It’s our expectation that
adults should be polite at meals, in whatever form fits the
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
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
For those who hunger and thirst after
righteousness, blessed are they — for at this meal they shall be