16 October 2020 |
Dear Adventist Today,
My wife and I recently participated in your virtual communion service. It moved me to examine my involvement in previous standard communion celebrations. This examination was in an attempt to determine what made this service such a uniquely moving event. In so doing, my mind wandered back to my home church in Antigua were I first participated in this rite as a newly baptized church member.
What still stands out for me from my first experience was the emphasis on text from 1 Corinthians 11:28- 30:
But a person must [prayerfully] examine himself [and his relationship to Christ], and only when he has done so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks [without solemn reverence and heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ], eats and drinks a judgement on himself if he does not recognize the body [of Christ]. That [careless and unworthy participation] is the reason why many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [in death]. AMP
I can vividly recall the fear induced in me as my young mind raced to evaluate what unrepentant, unintentional spiritual infringement I may have committed since my baptism. Could either my pubescent hormonally-charged self, or my hot headedness, have caused me to subconsciously break any of my baptismal vows? In the event that I had, was my act of participating bringing me into damnation? It was indeed a terrifying first experience. Looking back on that first ceremony I cannot recall any real emphasis being placed on the great gift awarded to me by His death; instead, the focus appeared to be solely on my unworthiness.
Fast forward, to last week’s virtual celebration. Self-consciousness and inhibitions were left at the (virtual) door, and participants felt comfortable sharing concerns without fear of being judged. As a result, the reasons why some hadn’t participated in communion for years, or how the ordinance of humility had left some feeling unwanted, as well as the uncomfortableness so many expressed about the footwashing service, were all laid bare without judgement.
There was a sense of Christian fellowship and warmth that enveloped the participants. For 60-minutes that virtual space felt like a safe haven, where we could bare our souls while still sensing feelings of peace, acceptance, love and compassion. The historical insights shared by Dr. Robert Johnston brought a spiritual enlightenment. The reading of the Apostle’s Creed set a tone of solemnity. The music provided by Matthew Shallenberger transported our minds back to the scene of Jesus in the upper room with his disciples. We left the service feeling blessed, forgiven and restored.
This entire experience provided a small foretaste of what we can expect during our heavenly convocation. Just imagine being able to enjoy a similar level of fellowship with our brothers and sisters from around the world! In that space, our skin pigment, accents, place of origin or politics will all be not be factors. I can hardly wait for that day. In the meantime, it is my hope that we will continue to enjoy and appreciate the spiritual enlightenment, sense of inclusiveness, warmth and brotherly and sisterly fellowship that permeates our weekly Adventist Today Sabbath Seminars.
Curl and Annette Phillips