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Communion Meditations (2015)

Candle

Psalm 112:4

Originally scheduled for March 15

You may never have considered this, but please picture in your mind that you are in a very dark wood. The only thing you can see clearly is a candle at some distance in front of you. The interesting thing about this is that the candle is much easier to see in total darkness than it is in daylight. It’s also interesting that the candle attracts those who have nothing to hide in the darkness – but repels those who are in the dark of the night so that no one will notice what they are doing. The candle, you see, has the grand advantage of simplicity. The flame of a candle looks pretty much the same on every candle in the world; you can look in the distance and say, “that’s a candle!” It is an interesting thought for churches which do not light candles anymore.

Let’s take that comparison a little bit further. In medieval times churches were lit in the night by candle. The candle in the cathedral drew you towards itself. If you were going to see, you had to become a seeker and go to the light. In today’s churches the candle is replaced with stage lighting, large overhead projection screens and other audiovisual secrets. The net effect for the visitor is that the lighting says, “take a seat; be entertained.” You don’t have to seek anything; we have the power of millions of candles to light it up for you and you can see it from anywhere in the house. The medieval church had no choice but to use candles; there seems to be nothing in particular wrong with having a lot of stage lighting in the modern church. But it does change the way in which we interact with the worship service.

Communion, in a sense, maintains the function of the candle. All the rest of worship is modern — it’s under the lights and does not depend on time of day. The sound system is designed to make sure everyone can hear what’s going on; if there’s an error in the sound system, the error is in too much sound rather than not enough. So the church finds itself in need of the latest and greatest audiovisual systems. Communion, however, is an old and simple thing. It has but two elements and everyone in the church has to handle those elements one way or another. So while everything else in the church is bathed in the complex world of audiovisual systems, communion stands out by its simplicity.

May I submit to you that Christ probably intended it that way? He did not want this ritual ceremony to be overwhelmed with massive sound systems, or loud choral singing, or anything else overwhelming. He made it simple and small so that you could not just sit in the pew and watch it go by. He wants you to be a seeker. In fact, he wants you to seek Him. In communion you find his body and blood. Be the seeker; find the Master.

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