People silently entered the candlelit sanctuary. In the total quiet of the moment, the intense prayers of those gathered were almost palpable. Each brought to worship years of living with accumulated pain and joy. The lonely came, as well as the exhausted because they are never alone. Some came bearing deep hurts, and some came bearing crushing guilt because of hurts they had imposed. Some came because their pain was nearly unbearable, and some came because they were afraid they could no longer feel anything. Some came because they were afraid to die, and some came because they were afraid to live.The ancient music washed over us all calming doubts and troubles in our souls. The liturgy began and those souls were lifted up to the lord. Fear and cares receded, and peace and hope took hold. We gave God our thanks and praise and He gave back to us the mystery of His presence. We revisited the crucifixion together as we celebrated Holy Communion. No matter our pasts, our educations, and our finances – we were all the same before God. We were sinners in need of His mercy – and we received it. We left that sacred time forgiven, reconciled, and whole. We worshipped and left with grace for the journey-full of glory.Advent presents us with unique opportunities for worship. As we come to God honestly confessional, void of pretense, seeking God for who he is, not for what we want from him, we realize that we are living in the very beginning days of eternal life.Reflection – Confess to God everything that stands in the way of your worship.Monica Boudreaux
For centuries Christians have divided, argued, and even fought wars over the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion. For the mystic, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist was essential as it was the way that one ultimately experienced the grace of God. Communion was a time to be united with Christ, and indeed all of Christendom, for a marvelous time of grace. Many Protestants resist the idea of grace through sacrament. Martin Luther, the “Father of the Protestant Reformation,” once said (in rejection of the “Radical Reformers”): “Before I would have mere wine with the fanatics, I would rather receive sheer blood with the pope.”
“The Christian church has struggled through the centuries to understand just how Christ is present in the Eucharist. Arguments and divisions have occurred over the matter. The Wesleyan tradition affirms the reality of Christ’s presence, although it does not claim to be able to explain it fully.” This statement is taken from the United Methodist document on Holy Communion-This Holy Mystery- and it affirms the reality of Christ’s presence in the sacrament.
So much can be missed if we consider Holy Communion a mere memorial. There are none among us who deny that our Lord gave us this Holy Mystery as a way of joining with Him-joining in a way that is so real, so strong that He promised to be with us, not in memory, but reality. As we go forward to discover the real mysteries of true faith in our Lord we must not neglect His promise to be with us in the sacrament of Holy Communion. In my tradition, Mr. Wesley asserted the doctrine of frequent communion. Christians all over the world are beginning to find more and more faith in coming to His table. May each of us approach His table with expectation and leave with His loving presence.