Drill and Ceremony
Originally scheduled for August 30
Military veterans will recall a constant feature of military life:
drill and ceremony. It is almost the definition of the word
The manuals will tell you that the purpose of drill is to instill
good habits into the serviceman. This is done by a constant
repetition, often with the rhythm or cadence to it so that the body
remembers what is being done. In the American military, the practice
dates to the Revolutionary war. George Washington, via our
ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin, asked for some assistance
in drilling his forces. He received one Gen. von Steuben, who wrote
out drill instructions each night and taught them the following day
to a model company of 120 men. These men later became the first
drill instructors in the United States Army.
Christians have drill, also. We may not see it quite that way, but
anything that we repeat to gain good habits as a Christian is a form
of drill. For example-
Scripture reading is a form of drill for the Christian. We should do
it regularly so that we will be familiar with the Scriptures,
reciting them as required in the circumstances. Think how often it
is beneficial to be able to quote the Bible to someone in distress
or to someone who is not really familiar with what Christians do
Giving is another such drill. As God places opportunities for giving
in your daily path, you have the opportunity to practice being one
who is an imitator of Christ. You give at his command. It is
something to be practiced — drilled.
Prayer is another such habit that is structured by drill. It is not
just that we repeat this at the same time each day, but very often
when we don’t know what to pray we fall back on prayer found in
Scripture, particularly the Lord’s Prayer.
Ceremony plays its part as well. Ceremonies are essentially an
opportunity to show the unity of those producing the ceremony, along
with a proclamation. In ceremony we show the world that we are
united, and that we mean to be united — it didn’t “just happen.”
Ceremonies are meant to be seen. Ceremonies are meant to give people
who watch them a conclusion about those presenting them. Christian
ceremonies are designed to show the important doctrines of Christ.
We have something to say; ceremony is very often a good way to say
Unity and proclamation work very well together. If you think not,
remember back to the days when choirs were allowed to meet together
and practice together, face-to-face before the virus hit. There is
something almost humorous about a choir practicing in a Zoom
Communion also is a ceremony which has something to proclaim and
which shows our unity. But it begins with drill.
You start by confessing what you need to change.
You move then to repentance, keeping your action consistent with
To the extent possible, you then restore whatever relationship might
That’s the drill part. Because we take the same cup in the same
bread, we demonstrate our unity in Christ. There is no special
communion for those who are officers of the church; rather,
communion is designed for sinners seeking salvation. That’s pretty
inclusive, and we are united in that.
Finally, communion has something to say — a proclamation. It
proclaims the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It proclaims
that this death is satisfactory atonement. It proclaims that Jesus
Christ is coming again, to judge the living and the dead. It
proclaims not only what has been done and what will occur but most
importantly Who has done this for us.
Therefore, in honor of the one who has died on our behalf and is now
Lord, examine yourself carefully and then participate.