the shape of leadership

How Receiving Communion Every Week Has Changed Me

This act of worship brought me closer to Jesus

Kristi Northup on August 26, 2019

Eight years ago this month, we began the preview services for our church plant. We were planting in a community that was predominantly Catholic, so we wanted to do a few things to help our service not feel so foreign to the local residents.

One of the things we decided to do was serve communion every week. It’s not just at the front of the sanctuary for people to take it or leave it. We actually stop after the second song to provide a short explanation and instructions. People quietly come forward, our leaders serve them the cup and the bread, and then they go back to their seats to receive it in their own time.

As a lifelong Pentecostal, I had received communion only occasionally. The church I attended as a child served it monthly. As an adult, I received communion quarterly. It felt rote and disconnected, like I was going through the motions. But I was willing to try something new.

When I started receiving communion more regularly, I began to have a number of meaningful experiences. First, I became more aware of my own sin. This was different than my devotional time. It was a quiet moment when I specifically asked the Lord to reveal whether there was anything standing between us.

I’ve been a little surprised at how many times the Lord has spoken to me then and there. A comment I made that was harsh; an attitude toward a person or situation; or something even deeper.

On occasion, I have forfeited receiving communion because I knew there was sin in my heart. That moment forced me to admit it, confess it to another faithful believer, and make it right. The cup and the bread simply represent the yearning for spiritual communion I want to have with my Savior.

In time, I began to understand the suffering of Christ more deeply. Reflecting on His death every seven days, I’ve realized things I had never fully understood about the cross. Jesus was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Each of those experiences helps me connect to Him.

Communion has taught me to submit whatever I am facing to the Cross.

Jesus was falsely accused. When I experience injustice, the act of communion comforts me and challenges me to respond as Jesus did.

Our Lord was an innocent man who died a violent death. We live in a violent city with a murder rate that is 10 times the national average. Many people I know have a personal connection to someone who died violently.

In the midst of political upheaval and inner-city anger, Jesus identifies with those whose lives are shattered by violence. When we don’t know what to say, it is powerful to share the One who truly understands their suffering.

At some point, I began to see with spiritual eyes those across the world receiving communion. I think of persecuted believers who may not be allowed to sing, but they can break bread together. It gives me a sense of solidarity knowing that on this Lord’s day, millions of believers are remembering His life, death and resurrection through the cup and the bread.

It touched my heart to learn of astronaut Buzz Aldrin quietly giving thanks to God and receiving communion on the surface of the moon. It is a form of worship I feel like I have just discovered.

More than anything, communion has taught me to submit whatever I am facing to the Cross. Beyond asking God to intervene in the situation, it is asking Him to intervene in me. I want to respond in the way that Christ responded on the cross. It has made me a better Christian. It has drawn me closer to Jesus.

As a worship leader, I am often troubled by the emphasis placed on the musical aspect of the worship experience. Sometimes it seems like it has become about us and what we get from God rather than what we are offering Him. Communion has a way of bringing our worship back to Jesus — every single time.

Occasionally, someone will ask me, “Doesn’t it get old, doing communion every week?”

My response is always the same: “It absolutely never gets old.”

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

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