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Communion Meditations (2016)

White Dresses

1 Corinthians 11:23-32

Originally scheduled for June 26

It was a small church in Southern California. In a fit of poor judgment on their part and mine, I was asked to serve as a deacon. Being the junior man on the team, I was the one who was to round up the customary eight men needed to serve communion — in August. Custom decreed that all the men would wear ties — in August, in Southern California. They wear sunglasses there for a reason, folks. Try as I might I was unable to round up eight men willing to wear a tie. Radical measures were called for. So I did this: with the help of the youth minister, I recruited eight high school girls to serve communion. They were instructed to wear white dresses of a modest appearance and otherwise behave in accordance with the importance of the occasion.

When the girls entered the church with the communion trays, there was an audible gasp from the congregation. I am pleased to say the girls carried out their task with complete decorum in a very high-class manner. I knew, of course, that there would be an elders meeting just after the service. I was prepared.

My defense was found in the classic passage concerning communion, 1st Corinthians 11:23-32. If you will notice that passage, you will see that St. Paul prescribes no specific method to serve communion, nor any specific set of persons to serve communion. However, it is clearly a solemn occasion. As the young ladies had served appropriately, the elders found they could see no reason to require ties. But communion is clearly of first importance. One reason for this is that in communion you come in contact with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and this proclaims to you and everyone else the core doctrines of the faith.

Another reason that this should be such a solemn occasion is that it is designed to make you examine yourself. You are in touch with Christ. By this symbolic act, you proclaim his death. In proclaiming his death you proclaim his resurrection; in proclaiming his resurrection you proclaim his ascension; in proclaiming his ascension you proclaim his coming again. To do this in a frivolous manner, or to do it by rote in an unthinking manner, is sin. It is grievously offensive to the Christ who gave his life for you.

Therefore, do not be distracted by those who serve (or what they are wearing), or those who make music during communion. Rather, examine yourself with all seriousness, repenting of your sins. Then partake of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

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