Communion: The Sweet & The Bitter

Confession: I don't like communion wine. I don't like much alcohol. Admittedly, I haven't tried much. Not because I'm a teetotaler; mainly because I've never like the smell of most of it, so I've figured the taste won't be much better. And when I was young there was a high school girl from our town who was killed because a bunch of friends were out drinking. I know I have some addictive tendencies anyway and don't want alcoholism to become one of them. But it's all personal choice--nothing religious or moral about it. The Bible is clear: drunkenness is a sin, drinking is not.

With that said, I found myself choosing the wine over the grape juice at communion at church tonight. I chose it because I don't like the taste. It always comes off being bitter to me. And the fact that Jesus' had to shed His blood for my sins should also be bitter to me. So it's a reminder.

I often take the grape juice, though. I dip my piece of flat bread in the juice because it's sweet and I like the taste. Forgiveness is that way. God's mercy is sweet.

Communion has this element of being celebratory and solemn (another one of those faith paradoxes). Sometimes I need the bitterness of the wine. Sometimes I need the sweetness of the juice.

Somewhere I wrote down a quote from the leader of the band Tenth Avenue North. When we were at their concert earlier this year, he asked us to raise our hands at one point. And he unapologetically told us to do it, even if it was uncomfortable for us to do. He said that sometimes worship needs to be uncomfortable. We need to grow beyond the places we're comfortable.

Another paradox: sometimes in worship we need comfort and sometimes we need to be uncomfortable.

We need the comfort of feeling God's presence with us. We need the rhythm of the liturgy to lead us into worship when we can't get there on our own. We need the comfort of a loving, non-judging community.

We also need to be uncomfortable. We should be uncomfortable in God's presence at times--fearing Him for the great and powerful Being He is. Sometimes we need the uncomfortableness of truth. At other times we need to do things outside of our comfort zones to experience God in knew ways and grow in our relationship with Him.

So rest in the sweetness and comfortableness in worship, but don't be afraid to chose the bitter or the uncomfortable at times. We need both the wine and the juice in our cups.


Tonya said...

Really good thoughts...interestingly I heard 10th Avenue North for the first time ever this morning. It was the song 'Healing Begins.' I immediately downloaded it as a reminder connected to the sermon last night. There's paradox for you..."This is where the healing begins...when you come to where you're broken within..the light meets the dark..."

Rev. Dave said...

We've heard them on the radio a bit, but really enjoyed them at the concert (we one free tickets, otherwise we hadn't really paid attention). They talked about "Healing Begins" being about our need for public confession in the church. That transparency we experienced last night.