Sunday, 1 May 2011
Thin day for pictures.
This is the first Sunday of the month and so we have the main Parish Communion service. This is my favourite time when we handle mysteries so deep that it is an awesome privilege. To be invited to share at the Lord's table where there is total acceptance and love without limits leaves you speechless in adoration.
The words of the Great Thanksgiving are so powerful and fresh every time you say them ... "in your love and mercy you freed us from the slavery of sin ..." "... that he may dwell in us and we in him...". Here are thoughts so profound that take us into a heavenly realm where the things of this world fade and we become so conscious of Christ and his death and resurrection.
During today's service we sang the simple words of "Be still and know that I am God ... ". Deceptively simple. Because somehow in that stillness and silence God speaks.
I love the Presbyterian tradition of a service of preparation for Holy Communion. A whole evening is set aside to prepare one's heart for the great event that is to happen. You do not come lightly to the Lord's Table ... yet you come willingly, eagerly and with childlike trust and anticipation.
So, before we approach there is time to prepare ... to reflect on what it is that we are doing and to anticipate what it is that God will do.
Then, at the rail, we pause to remember his death, to celebrate his rising and to anticipate his return. "Too soon we rise" and return to our seats ... but we do so as changed men and women. We have received the body and blood of our Saviour. Even in giving out the bread and wine there is a sense of awe as we handle holy things...
So afterwards ... with full hearts we pause to reflect, to let our Lord's words sink deeply into our souls ... to allow his healing work to take effect. Then, as the music stops, the activity at the Holy Table ceases, a great hush descends ...
This is the Great Silence ... a sacred, awe filled moment, when the enormity of it all has a chance to stir our hearts. It is a time so sacred that you're almost afraid to move or breathe lest you disturb the work of God's Holy Spirit among the people of God.
I wonder sometimes if we've lost something of the sense of awe ... an awareness of the "holy" ...? Do we treat too lightly our encounter with God ... ?
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me so, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.