Thoughts On Communion

June 6, 1998
by Harvey Freeman

1 Kings 19:11 – "Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain," the Lord said to [Elijah]. Then the Lord passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks but the Lord was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the soft whisper of a voice.

Elijah had fled from Jezebel for his life, to Mount Sinai, and had cried to the Lord for help. A God who could save him from such a powerful despot, he would associate with fearsome phenomena such as fire or earthquake. But it was in the calm after the storms that God spoke to Elijah in a whisper.

There is an illustration "closer to home" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. After the maestro has been building up to the Ode to Joy chorus, one is waiting for the powerful culmination. But the maestro brings it in as a whisper. This always seems like my moment.

In our worship routines we like to be impressed. Our minister should speak with a strong articulate voice. She should command our attention and inspire and lead us. Prayers should be carefully designed, and sermons insightful. A pipe organ is good, and a choir of 24 is much better than a choir of 6. Or we might have a line of microphones and guitars. We would like our service to be powerful. But there is a contrast in our communion service. Here there is little place for exhortations and homilies. The scripture is read and the elements are served. "This is my body broken for you." In the silence of the church, we all partake, each person in their own way, expectant and attentive to their communion with the Lord. At this time I believe the Lord whispers to us.

I believe that in our daily life, the Holy Spirit whispers to us. It is always quiet and unobtrusive, personal and private. It can be so low profile that we might not be even aware of it. Our spiritual enrichment may be imperceptible, like the movement of the hour hand on a clock, or the daily growth of a young child, but in this we obtain our spiritual rebirth and maturity as with the infallible passage of time.

I know that it is always wrong to presume that one's own Christian experience is typical or normative. It might be that our individual experiences are fully unique. But I am convinced that to each person in our Christian community, the partaking of communion is a personal and profound experience.

Prayer: Heavenly father, we thank you for our communion with you in and through the Holy Spirit. We would grow nearer to you in the passing years, and grow stronger in our faith from day to day. Amen.

About the author:

Harvey Freeman
Devon, Alberta, Canada

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