Every Sunday, my church celebrates communion. Someone prays. We drink juice. We eat crackers. And we sit quietly for several long minutes waiting on everybody else.
While that sounds like a pretty ordinary, not particularly special routine, it’s actually one of the most consistently magical moments of my week. That is, when I remember to think magical thoughts…
Communion depends SO MUCH on what’s going on inside our heads and hearts. The act of eating and drinking is transformed when it’s backed up with remembering, discerning, hoping, and proclaiming.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Too often I find myself thinking about lunch or my kids or where I put the checkbook.
If, like me, you’ve ever struggled to stay on task while the trays go round, consider this list of communion thought-focusing prompts:
1. Look Back.
When Jesus eats the Passover meal with his apostles, the meal later appropriated by Christians, He tells them to “do this in remembrance of me.”
So, communion (like the Passover celebration) is a time to remember what’s God’s done in the past.
Often I’ll use this time to thank Jesus for rescue, listing His past victories over sin and darkness in my life and the lives of people I love.
My husband and I make a habit of answering this prompt during our communion reflections: "Because Jesus died and rose again…" I’ve filled in that blank a hundred ways: Because Jesus died I’m not mean and lonely (like I was before). Because Jesus died, my parents stayed married even when it was hard. Because Jesus died, I don’t mind it when the money’s tight. This week, just after we’d passed the bread, my husband whispered to me, “Because Jesus died and rose again, I feel like I’ve never sinned.”
2. Look Around .
In I Corinthians chapters 10 and 11, the apostle Paul makes it clear communion is a whole-body activity. Yes, we commune with God in it, but we also commune or share with one another. When we ignore each other during communion, we’re ignoring the power of the multiplied presence of God in His assembled people.
Often, I’ll spend the communion period praying for my brothers and sisters in the room. I’ll thank God for them by name and ask God to show me how best to love them. In this way, I’m remembering the connecting work of the cross, asking God to help me fully embrace and bless His children.
You might jot these words on the back of your bulletin: "The cross connects me to…." And then list the people you see. As you write each name, make room for the Spirit to convict you. You may need to make amends, apologize, encourage or help one of the people on your list.
One of the primary purposes of communion is to create unity in the body. Let your thoughts lead you toward deeper connection.
3. Look Ahead.
My favorite part in the very spare description of the first Lord’s Supper is when Jesus says one day we’ll eat the communion meal together—He and I and us. All of us.
Communion is a moment when we “proclaim the Lord’s death til he comes.” Because He’s coming. Because Christ’s death on a cross opened a portal between here and there, now and then. His death made possible my death to sin, and His resurrection made possible my new life with Him.
So, sometimes I spend communion dreaming about what isn’t yet but one day will be. I think about what it’ll be like to have finally, once and for all, vanquished the sin in my life. I think about broken bodies healed. About not crying. I think about perfect peace.
The next time you take communion ask yourself, What will be different when I drink this new with Christ in the kingdom of God? And then let yourself get really, really happy.
What about you? Do you have any go-to communion thoughts, ways to keep your mind focused, or helpful filters for understanding what we’re doing as we eat and drink?
Share below in the comments. I’m excited to hear your ideas!
**photo credit: Kinfolk Magazine