What does it mean when a reviewer describes a book or movie as irreverent? Usually it’s meant as a compliment. We think it’s great entertainment when someone pokes fun at what many consider to be serious. We’re suspicious of authority and rules. We love to mock serious things. Even death, marriage, and love get their shares of irreverent laughter.
If that’s true, then our attitudes may need adjusting before we approach the Lord’s Table. Everything surrounding the Lord’s Supper tells us that it is an awesome mystery that demands our deepest reverence. This Supper isn’t just a church rite or custom. It was instituted by the Lord Jesus himself. The honor and respect we give to the Lord extends to this special Supper. Luther said that it was rightly called the Lord’s Supper, not the Christian’s Supper. It isn’t our property; it’s the Lord’s. Therefore, we hold it in the highest regard, as we do him. Because it is the Lord’s, we carefully administer it according to his wishes.
Besides that, it was instituted on the night Jesus was betrayed. He was about to experience the agony of crucifixion, separation from God, and damnation—all so that we would never need to experience those things ourselves. Fully conscious of what the next 24 hours would bring him, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as his “last will and testament” for his disciples. Ever since, we as disciples of Jesus have celebrated the Supper with an attitude of sober reflection in our hearts.
The pastor invites us, “Lift up your hearts.” And we do. “We lift them up to the Lord.”
Most of all, it’s the gifts given to us in the Supper that call for solemn awe. Here we receive not just a message about the Lord Jesus but the Lord Jesus himself. Here we receive his true body and blood “in, with, and under” the bread and wine. Above all, here we receive God’s full and free forgiveness for all our sins.
So we come, mindful of our sins, of the price paid to redeem us from them, and of the amazing depth of our Savior’s love for us. We gratefully receive the gift of forgiveness with joy. But it’s a joy mixed with solemn awe and touched with the deepest reverence.
Our joy is the reason that, at the beginning of our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the pastor invites us, “Lift up your hearts.” And we do. “We lift them up to the Lord.”
Then we receive the Lord’s body and blood with joy—in many of our churches, on our knees.
© 2004 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.