Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wrestling with Communion

I've been having a little wrestling match with God about Communion. Without spoiling the surprise, I did not have a Jacob moment. I didn't win.

I love participating in the Lord's Supper. It has always held a sense of awe for me even when I was a child and couldn't participate. I remember the first time I took Communion. I felt so grown up and excited. I think the bread and grape juice were especially amazing that first time! I've had various emotions through the years regarding this tradition. Some experiences have been filled with joy while others seem to weigh me down with the enormity of Christ's sacrifice. This time I was a basket case of determined feelings.

Yesterday I had asked my husband if we were going to participate in the whole Communion service. He said we were. I asked why. He said because. I was very confused because we had never stayed for the entire thing before. Let me explain, because I can tell you are also confused!

Of the many lovely denominations that I have attended before, I have never experienced a three-fold celebration of Communion. What this means is that not only is the bread and the cup shared, but also a full meal (think potluck) and footwashing. There are some within the denomination who feel there is a precise order to which all this should follow, but my fabulous pastor has shaken things up the last few times. Crazy, I know! He's like that! Anyway, the last time we celebrated Communion, we observed the bread and the cup at the end of the regular church service, and then those who wanted stayed for the meal and the footwashing. We chose to avoid the second two parts, but I was so grateful for the opportunity to take Communion in my familiar fashion as it had been years since I had participated due to the previous order of the ceremony.

I have never had my feet washed in a ceremonial fashion before and to be quite frank, it sounded weird to me. Oh, I know it has a beautiful symbolism, but I thought even that was lost on us culturally with our wool sock-covered, warm shoe laden feet. We don't often wear sandals around these parts (unless you are in high school which seems to warrant all kinds of strange apparel choices - oh I'm old). I was also quite positively in disagreement to the sense of absoluteness that the meal and the footwashing were part of what Jesus wanted us to commemorate. I was going with the majority rules argument on that one, along with my extensive Biblical training. (Sarcasm, in case you don't know me well!)

Our church often has what we call "carry-in dinners." This is what I used to call potluck! I had worked all day yesterday painting and hadn't fixed anything as of 9:30 last night. My husband, still positive that we were going to participate in all three parts of Communion, suggested I do a crock pot roast or stew that could just be thrown together and cooked overnight. Oh, fine.

This morning I woke up tired and a bit annoyed that I had to not only participate in this long, drawn out tradition, but I also had to get up early and be at church by 8:00 AM for my man to practice for music worship. I wish I could say I was more supportive, but I wasn't.

I began to read in Isaiah during the practice time while drinking my coffee. This was part of my off-and-on reading and I found myself in chapter 58 which has a subtitle, "True and False Worship." I'll share more on what God told me through that time later, but suffice it to say, I was beginning to feel myself being challenged.

I skipped Sunday School with the excuse that the usual teacher was gone, and I just didn't feel like "sharing." Instead I went to the closest grocery store, milled around, and came back to church in time for the fellowship time before service. By this time, I had looked up in Scripture more reasons to why I was right in my thoughts.

My plan was to participate in the first two aspects and wait in the car for Pat to finish the footwashing. I was sure the wrestling match was over. I was fighting for position hard on this one.

We began to sing one of the songs in the middle of worship and God spoke to me. I can't explain how He did it, but He very clearly said to me, If you won't even wash feet, why would you do anything that really required sacrifice?

I felt my position completely faltering.

If you won't do things that seem impractical, how can I show you my Supernatural?

I'm slipping.

I think you need to get over it.

I'm out. I'm tapping, but He's not done.

You know it's about me, not you. So, on the practical side, are you actively doing the practical things that serve others instead of the symbolic act of washing feet?"

I'm now wishing I could lay flat out in submission and humiliation.

Just at this moment, we began to sing the song, Heart of Worship, and I sang in all earnest, "It's all about you, Jesus."

My heart was so changed through that exchange, and I thoroughly enjoyed every part of our three-part celebration of Communion today. I did not have any momentous breakthrough regarding my feeling of awkwardness during the footwashing. I still think it's weird and uncomfortable! It may not be quite as awkward next time, though.

I also realized that there may be issues that I could possibly be right about, but God is asking me to do it anyway. How about that one. Will I participate in something that God wants me to do when I don't want to do it, and really, it's not a huge salvation issue? How high do I value obedience? I decided today that if God wants me to do something and He clearly states it to me, I will obey. Period. He wins!


  1. Once again, this is a wonderful post! I had a very neat experience with footwashing. One time while I was a children's pastor I decided to teach about Jesus washing Peter's feet and I asked one of the children if I could wash their feet while I was teaching the lesson. After I had finished, I impulsively asked if any of the other children wanted their feet washed. One by one they ALL did. I had not anticipated them being so eager and uninhibited about it. Then they decided to start washing each others' feet. All the children participated! It was so sweet! Oh, and incidently, it was all in the same little bowl of water I had prepared for one child!

  2. Melissa, isn't that moment of surrender and obedience sweet? I know for me, it is, and I'm thinking why did I fight Him over this? What a blessing you are to my and my heart.

    With love,