Originally scheduled for July 3
English must be the most confusing language in the world.
For example, we tell people that we “celebrate” the Fourth of July.
Now what does that mean?
Most likely, it’s going to start with a parade. There may be
military units; some of them active-duty and others veterans. Add to
this a variety of civic organizations, a few floats created for the
occasion and of course marching bands, and you have a most enjoyable
Fireworks — what would the Fourth of July be without the chance to
“ooh” and “ahh” over colorful explosions in the sky. This is often
accompanied by patriotic music, usually John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever.
Of course, we eat. In varies by the region of the country, but you
usually see hot dogs and hamburgers, such All-American favorites as
pizza, watermelon, corn on the cob and a variety of things cold and
wet to drink.
We also tell those same people that we “celebrate” the
Lord’s Supper. This obviously has a very different meaning than
celebrating the Fourth of July.
Instead of the parade, we have prayer. Indeed, it is a deep and
serious form of prayer, for it concerns our eternal life.
In many churches, the entire ceremony is performed with great
reverence. Little children are told to hush; teenagers are told to
put their feet flat on the floor, and decorum in general reigns.
Oh yes — we eat. But not in the same sense we do for the Fourth of
July. This is a solemn, symbolic meal. The bread and the cup have
deep meaning, something which cannot be said of hot dogs.
Someone from a foreign country might ask us: why the
difference? I think the answer is fairly simple. In celebrating the
Fourth of July, we celebrate
our victory over our foes. It doesn’t much matter which war
you’re talking about, Americans like to celebrate their victories.
But in Communion we celebrate not our victory, but our Lord’s
victory. His opponent was much greater than anyone we have ever had
to meet on the battlefield. Therefore his victory is greater also;
so was the price he paid for it. God became man for the purpose of
dying for our sins.
We celebrate the Fourth of July in a fitting manner. We
should do likewise with the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, examine
yourself and see if there is something in your conduct or attitudes
which is unbecoming to a Christian. If so, repent and make plans to
make amends. Then, with clear conscience, take and eat of this most