If we celebrated the Lord’s Supper every time we meet for worship, how would that affect us? I have been wondering. In the free Protestant tradition of which I am a part there is much emphasis on the word “free.” The shackles of liturgical requirements are lifted, and there is a lot of emphasis on human creativity for communication purposes. If I have heard it once, it has been said thousands of times: the worst thing we can do is bore people with the most exciting message ever announced… There is a part of me that absolutely yearns for those moments when we all come alive with our personal expressions of response to the God among us – through song, dance, the arts, reenactments through drama, etc. Truly God becomes touchable, feelable, and we become like statues come alive, animated by the life of God within. And yet (and I bet you have noticed) when we walk into a sanctuary and there is a communion table with the elements symbolizing Christ’s death upon it, there is a gravity we feel. The breezy, chatty banter makes way for the great realities of sin and atonement. We enter into an atmosphere where our natural distance from God and the supernatural grace of mercy that enables us to draw near give the worship service an aroma of a another kind.
I am reminded of the Old Testament prescription that the altar should be built out of unchisled stones, set upon earth, and that the priest should only go up to the altar fully clothed so that his nakedness should not be exposed. (Not a bad prescription for praise teams that need to give a second thought about distracting appearances). All of this seems to say that in worship human instrumentality does not come front and center but the presence of God. And my guess is that there is nothing that puts God more front and center than the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper doesn’t introduce anything new or creative to the service. Jesus called it a reminder; it brings us back to the old and the everlasting in a way appointed by Jesus Himself. In a lot of free Protestant churches, the Lord’s Supper is squeezed into services where there usually wouldn’t be room, almost like an afterthought, appendage or even an interruption in “worship as usual.” My guess is that if it was more central, there would a whole lot less silliness in our worship services and more power in dealing with the sin in our lives.
The Lord’s Supper says to all who observe that this is no trivial thing we do. It might not make you laugh and feel like going out for an ice cream afterwords, but it could feed your soul and make you strong.