If you read my last post, Conducting a Worship Survey across Denominations, you know that I have been asking pastors about their views on Baptism, communion, and worship. While doing the Worship Survey I ended up conducting a phone interview with a Lutheran pastor named Pastor John Havrilla of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. He had a very interesting view of communion. He compared it to a family meal in that it is meant to bring people together to fellowship. He used the Thanksgiving feast as an example of this type of communal meal. In both communion and Thanksgiving there is much more meaning behind the meal than how much food there is or how good it tastes. Communion gives us the opportunity to commune with our fellow believers just as Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to gather together and fellowship with our loved ones. I experienced this firsthand in both the communion service I took part in most recently and the Thanksgiving dinner that my family held at my parents’ house.
I last took part in communion a few weeks ago at my grandparents’ church. One thing that I really like about communion at this church is that a different pair of people serve the bread and wine every time communion is served. The pair that did it when I last attended was my grandmother and grandfather. I have never served communion, but it seems to be an important and rewarding activity. The servers get to greet each person that takes communion, look them in the eyes, and share the love of Christ with them. One of the most essential parts of the communion meal is the fellowship and togetherness that it creates, and the servers get to create brief moments of fellowship with every person in the sanctuary. As a participant in this particular communion Sunday I tried my best to communicate with as many people as I could before and after the meal was served. I think that everyone who participates in communion should try to embody the communal aspect of the meal.
I also did my best to embody the communal aspect of Thanksgiving this year. My grandparents from both sides and my fiancé’s family came over to my parents’ house this year to join my family for Thanksgiving dinner. Being that the meal was being served at my house I had a large part in getting the food and the house ready for our guests. Instead of seeing the preparation as laborious or unpleasant, I viewed it as a blessing and a privilege to be able to create an atmosphere of fellowship and quality time with family. Like the servers for the communion service I was able to serve food to each person, look them in the eye, and share brief moments of fellowship with everyone at the table. I was also able to have good conversations with everyone who came and enjoy my extended family’s company.
Community is a central aspect of Christianity, and communion is a very important activity for Christian community. Pastor John’s comparison of communion and Thanksgiving is very relevant in today’s individualistic society. Many Christians do not value community in the way that they should. Both communion and Thanksgiving bring people together so that they can spend time together and talk over food. This sense of community is lacking in our homes and churches, and activities like communion and Thanksgiving, when done with the right heart and mind, can help to remedy that lack.