Muffled coughs. The clicking of empty plastic cups dropping into their spots in the communion trays. The clanging of trays being stacked in the back. And silence.
Those were the sounds of communion in the churches where I grew up. No special music. No congregational singing. Someone might have shared a devotional thought or Bible verse before praying. . . twice. . . once for the bread and once for the cup. Then silence. Quiet meditation to focus on the death of Jesus. A couple hundred people sitting together – alone with their thoughts and prayers.
Mimi and I experienced that again today for the first time in a long time. We returned to our roots by visiting a church within the same tribe where we grew up.
The worship was intellectually stimulating. The preaching was straight from the Bible; not topical, not filled with elaborate illustrations or life applications. It was solid, deep, and rich. The music was familiar, a capella, and sung in four-part harmony. The elders were clearly the pastors of the flock.
Mimi and I were deeply touched.
It is comforting to return to the traditions of your youth. It’s like returning to your childhood home long after you’re grown and while you’re deep in the muck of your own life. You sleep in your old bed, eat your mom’s cooking, and sit around the same kitchen table you did as a child. You tell the same stories and have the same arguments. But, somehow, it centers you again. It lets you cut through the clutter of your complicated life so you can see clearly.
No, you wouldn’t want to move back to your old room. And, no, you don’t want to move back to your old religious traditions. But you don’t want to loose them either. You just want to visit them every now and then so you can see God anew; again.
And now, separate and apart from the Lord’s Supper. . . .
***Don’t bother asking if you don’t know what that last line means; you’ll never understand.