From Chris Maxwell’s book Pause for Pastors: Finding Still Waters in the Storm of Ministry

Celebration and ReverenceWhen I am hurried, those earthly things seem to get all my attention. I lose sight of the real presence of Christ with me, the actual presence of Christ in me, the presence of the One seated in favor at the Father’s right hand. —Alan Fadling[1]

Awe and delight? Two words from our previous chapter present distinct and different images. But they’re two words belonging together. We who serve as pastors need to merge awe and delight into a balanced diet.

This chapter’s two words present a similar reminder. Let us celebrate and revere—again, not just in a corporate gathering we’ve structured to reach a successful goal where all those under our leadership can celebrate while showing reverence. Not a new trend. Not a new revival service.

A moment. A pause. Alone.

Time together with the One we love.

The words and the actions of celebration and reverence are invitations to us, for us. Invitations from our True Love. We can bow in reverence, admiring and respecting and in awe of the Holy One. We can stand in celebration, singing and applauding and entering festivities of the Creator of Joy.

Holy Communion merges those words. As I grew up in church, we received Communion often. Rarely did I grasp its deep meaning. Rarely did I enjoy it. But, I was a child.

As I pastored for so many years, we received Communion. I often tried to find new ways to make the old experience new. Rarely did I succeed.
Maybe He wanted the dull ritual itself to be enough. No entertainment needed. No humor, no relevance, no flashing lights. Just doing that in remembrance of a Rescuer. Just thinking over and over and over of John 3:16. Remembering Adam and Eve, remembering Jesus, remembering my own failures, remembering the cost of Him forgetting. Love does, in that way, lie bleeding.

We taste. We swallow. We are washed clean.

What does that mean in this context of contemporary needs and community faith? Jesus and the disciples experienced their elements in their common meal. He took the normal and made it historical. In their ritual, a world renewal was about to occur.

A time of reverence.

A time to celebrate.

What if we—the busy, worried, stressed, ready to quit and try something new pastors—agreed to be served Communion by a spiritual leader from outside our own church walls? What if we—the ones who usually have Communion only in the context of our corporate gathering—received the elements and remembered a death while at home, while away, while only with our family, while in a different nature or culture?

Holy Communion can slow us down and help us focus. We pause to remember. We pause to receive. We pause to repent. We pause to rejoice. In reverent celebration, in historical present, in joyful awe, in smiling tears, in moaning redemption: we travel back in time to embrace the now.
The sacraments, maybe, can be a time of healing. Readjusting ourselves. Returning to the reality of the theology we claim and declare. Stepping aside from the hurry to wait and consider and accept a biblical approach to recovery.
[1] Alan Fadling, An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest (Downers Grove. IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013) 37.