Over the past month or so at Highland, we've gone through a series entitled "Sacred". One Sunday, Jeff Childers preached on the tradition of "closed communion" and the next week Jerry Taylor preached on "open communion". Both were good but I have to say that Jerry Taylor's sermon was one of the best I've ever heard on the subject. He is amazing.
It got me to thinking about communion, community and how those two play together. Right now, at Highland, we are going through some discussions on instrumental music and other worship-related things. Whenever we begin discussing the ins and outs of worship style and format, people tend to get nervous. I don't think it always points to a lack of, or abundance of, maturity. I believe sometimes people, without knowing how to verbalize it, are afraid of losing holy moments in worship. What that looks like for one may vary in what it looks like to someone else.
The thing I keep coming back to is not guitars, pianos, pitch pipes or tuning forks. I keep coming back to the Lord's Supper. I've heard several people worry out loud about Churches of Christ losing their "distinctiveness". While I understand what they're trying to say, it always troubles me. I don't want my distinctiveness to lie in whether I sing a cappella or with an instrument. I want it to be solely in Jesus Christ and that I am washed in His blood. This is what brings me to the Table.
In our tribe, every Sunday we gather to take the supper. I've been a part of other churches who did this quarterly and always missed it when it wasn't a weekly tradition. I think taking the Lord's Supper is one of the most important things we do each Sunday morning. In my heart, it's where I find my identity. It informs...or should inform...everything about who I am and who I will be that week. Yes, there are many other parts of the Sunday morning gathering that impact me too. But, it's the Supper that really helps me the most.
Jerry Taylor brilliantly preached about Christ dying for all and what that means to us in the Supper. So, it's with that truth that I experience deep community in the taking of the bread and cup. It reminds me that we all stand on equal footing...none of us is righteous...not one. It reminds me that there are others out there, not taking this meal yet, who Christ died for and wants to bring to the table. It reminds me of my church family and that we are bound by blood, no matter our other differences.
There's one tradition that goes a little deeper that helps me experience all levels of community during this meal. Several years ago...maybe even 7-8 years ago...a group of friends and I made a pact to take the cup from the middle of the tray and when we did to remember that we are not alone on this journey. I'm sure we could have come up with a term that didn't feel quite so exclusive but it's common each Sunday to see my phone light up with several texts reading, "inner circle" from brothers like Josh Ross, Charlton Taylor, Stephen Bailey, our life group and others. It reminds me that when we take this cup we are joining with a multitude of believers in proclaiming, "JESUS IS LORD!" It also reminds me that this walk, while lonely at times, is not one of solitude. We walk together.
Tomorrow morning you can bet I'll be taking my cup from the middle of the tray and while remembering what Jesus did for me, I'll be asking Him to bring others to this table and celebrating those he's given me as fellow journey-ers. Tomorrow I'll be drinking that cup specifically thinking about Ronnie Lorenz and all he's done to show me Jesus in the flesh. While Ronnie's flesh is weak right now and barely holding on to life as we know it, the Spirit in him is strong and we will be communing together. So, "Pop"...this "inner circle" goes out to you tomorrow.