This is the hour of banquet and of song; This is the heavenly table spread for me; Here let me feast, and feasting, still prolong The hallowed hour of fellowship with Thee. Horatius Bonar (1855)
Because I came late to the sacrament of communion, I walked up to the communion table for the first time filled with stage fright (a problem of mine) and embarrassment. Since then, I’ve continued to grow in appreciation for this public embrace of Christ that is so important for Christians. But I also still appreciate and love my separate, quiet moments shared with the Lord.
That’s actually how the tradition of communion originated, with conversations between Jesus and his disciples while sharing a meal. And so, after the resurrection and ascension, early Christian groups followed the tradition, gathering in homes, sharing food and fellowship.
In 1st Corinthians, Paul established the symbols for this sharing when he wrote: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ” (KJ 10:16)? And the Didache, written late in the first century, formalized his words into the celebration of the Eucharist we have today.
And yet, to experience an intimate fellowship or rapport, and that is what communion means in English, we also need to embrace moments with the Saviour that come to us during all of our days. Such communion opens us to the spiritually unique person we were created to be, an individuality safely nurtured and filled with Christ’s presence.
These singular, “hallowed” moments of fellowship with the Lord transform us. Instead of living our lives in lonely, self-dependent ways, we walk with Someone who is infinitely greater and stronger than we are. Communing with the Lord truly is a “heavenly table,” one that is set for each one of us, each hour of every day.