I like to pray before I take communion.
You see, I got it in my head (and by that, I mean at some point I assumed and then never thought to question) that I have to be RIGHT with Jesus before being welcome at his table: I have to look at the bad things I’ve done, actually feel sorry for them (sometimes I don’t *gasp* !), and then ask for forgiveness. And if I can’t make my heart right, then I should not come to his table.
I think it’s a common belief. Maybe even a liturgically correct one – how should I know? I never bothered to ask.
So tonight, as people started to rise to come to the Lord’s table, I closed my eyes, as I am wont to do…. and I really meant to pray. But instead my mind got distracted: Didn’t I read something about communion this week? Something I really wanted to remember the next time I took communion? I couldn’t remember what though (of course).
I started to backtrack: That book I was reading…. Searching for Sunday. Right. Something she said about communion. Uhhh…. people she doesn’t like. Wait, no. Who make her uncomfortable at communion. Because she doesn’t like them. (Guess I was right the first time.) People! (I’ve got it now.) Who don’t deserve communion, but are welcome at the table anyway, and it boils her blood.
Why the hell would I want to remember that? Oh. Right. Because she concludes with something like “thank God they’re welcome, because I’m one of those people who don’t deserve it.” (Paraphrase, obviously.)
I am one of those people who don’t deserve it. But I am welcome at the Lord’s table. *light bulb*
How foolish of me. To think that I could wash away all the hardness from my heart in a single, hurried prayer. To think that anything I could do (let alone say) could ever make me worthy to come to the Lord’s table. And yet, he invites me anyway. Just as he invited Judas, though he had already made arrangements to turn Jesus over to the chief priests. (I can’t imagine he whispered a quick little prayer of repentance before accepting the bread and the cup.)
I want so badly to MAKE myself RIGHT before coming to the Lord’s table, that I forgot that it is his supper that makes me right. “Do this in remembrance of me,” he said. “Christ’s body, broken for you. Christ’s blood, spilled out for you, Jessica.” They’ve reminded me over and over for years now, but tonight, for the first time (when I wasn’t even listening) – I finally heard and understood.
I can’t make myself right with God. And I don’t need to make myself right with him. Christ made me right when he died for me on the cross. I remember.
I opened my eyes, finally ready to take communion, and got halfway up to the front before realizing – communion was over! Everyone was filing back to their seats. I had sat, eyes closed, contemplating what it truly means to commune with the Lord… and missed my opportunity to do just that.
I turned to go back to my seat, hesitated, then turned around and ran up to the front. “Am I too late? Did I miss communion?”
Of course I didn’t. (Seriously, what kind of pastor would deny a girl communion for being 30 seconds late?) And we (I) may look late (or foolish) to everyone else – but whenever we come to Jesus, we’re always right on time.