By Graham Glover –
Next time you attend the Divine Service at your parish, I want you to watch.
Watch how your pastor acts.
Watch how he handles himself, especially when he presides over the Sacrament of the Altar.
Watch how your fellow parishioners act as they come forward to receive into their mouths the very body and blood of Christ.
Watch how they return to their pews.
Watch how your pastor gives the elements to the faithful and receives them when they commune.
Watch him when the distribution is over, especially when he handles the remaining elements.
Watch how he acts. Watch how others act. Watch how you act.
How we act at the altar speaks volumes about what we really believe is going on in the Eucharist. How we treat the consecrated elements, during and after distribution, tells others whether we believe the bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ much more than a simple statement about Holy Communion in the bulletin.
So I challenge you to watch.
Watch and learn. Watch and reflect. Watch and then act.
Act like you are standing in the very presence of the risen Christ because you are.
When the pastor places the host into your mouth, act like you are closer to your Savior than you ever will be on this side of the eschaton because you are.
When you are at the altar, be reverent. Act reverent. Look reverent. Come on bended knee. Act like you are standing before God—the God that made you, died for you, and will come again because you most assuredly are.
Act like this is the most important part of your week because it is.
This gift of Jesus is given and shed for you so that your sins might be forgiven. It’s not just another part of the Divine Service; it’s at the heart of why we worship. You might even say it defines our worship. How we and our pastors act during Holy Communion is the greatest witness we can give to others. Our actions (or inactions), our reverence (or irreverence), and our piety (or lack thereof) tell the world how look at Jesus—as a nice remembrance of what was or as the incarnate Christ who comes to His altar so that the faithful might feast of His flesh and in so doing, be filled with His righteousness.
So watch, my friends. Watch how we act at the altar.