BY REV. DAVID MERRITT |
Over the years, I have had a complicated relationship with Holy Communion. At my home church, Holy Communion was celebrated on the fixed Sundays, Holy Week, and the various Moravian festivals throughout the Church Year. My first experience was not what I expected. After receiving the bread and the cup, I thought that there would be some type of Epiphany. Instead, I was left with questions. As I became a young adult, Holy Communion often accompanied a youth retreat or a closing celebration at camp. More emotions, more questions.
In 1982, I was ordained at my home church, Mizpah Moravian Church. Even though I had served communion as a Licensed Pastor in Alberta, Canada prior to my ordination, I experienced a different feeling now as the officiating minister. It wasn’t simply a mystical experience per se; it was more of a ‘humbling experience” as I approached the Table of Our Lord. Was I honestly worthy of such an honor? Could I serve communion even when I was “less than” and “not as good as?”
Over the years, I became more accustomed to the ritual. It wasn’t unusual for me to wear the Surplice during the whole service, and even when I was not in charge, I often found myself reciting the words as the other minister consecrated the bread and the cup. But still in the depths of my soul, I often asked the question that others have asked – “Am I worthy to handle these holy symbols of the Lord’s gift to humanity, his body and his blood?”
Now as I have moved into yet another dimension of ministry, I still carry around a sense of awe, a holy awareness of the gift of Christ for the sins of the world, to know Jesus’ life was given for me.
I really don’t think we can ever grasp the complex nature of Jesus’ sacrificial offering on the Cross or our “remembering” of such an event when we approach the Table of Our Lord. Jesus is offering himself for us, and for all time. As Moravians, we confess that this central piece of our faith stands as a Mystery, a Holy Moment, and a Sacrament.
A poster graced my office at Edmonton Moravian Church during my year-long internship. The picture on the poster was a table set for communion with the cup and bread laying ready for the celebration. The words captioned to the side read this way: Jesus of Nazareth invites you to a meal given in his honor.
Welcome to the Table – it is a profound and gracious invitation that has sustained the church throughout the ages. For all of us who have served in ministry, it is the place where we sense God’s presence in a humbling way as we share both the bread and the cup.
Friend Traveler, go in peace now and live as those who have truly tasted the goodness of God!
About the author
The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grand-kids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.
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