Communion Meditation 8/25/19

Of the 3 times I’ve gotten to give the communion meditation at church (first in Feb and then again in June of this year), this is probably my favorite. There were so many different directions in which I could’ve taken this one. Because these moments are only a minute or two, there was no way I could’ve shared everything, so I decided to publish these in blog posts. Since I want to expand this one, I’ll quote what I actually shared, and I’ll interject some additional thoughts. Sound good? Good.

I finished a novel recently that was set in the 18th century around the time of the American Revolution, and several of the characters were Quakers. One aspect of the Quaker denomination that the author chose to highlight was their pattern of speech. Instead of using honorifics like Mr. or Mrs., everyone was called “Friend.” Instead of “you,” Quakers say “thee.” At that time in history, addressing someone as “you” was considered a formal and respectful way of speaking. “Thee” was used with those you were familiar with, those that you knew well. 

Interjection. That novel was An Echo in the Bone, by Diana Gabaldon. It’s the 7th book in the Outlander series. For some reason (divinely inspired, undoubtedly), I decided to actually listen to the author’s notes at the end of the audiobook instead of skipping them. In that note, Gabaldon brings up these two points to illustrate the Quakers’ belief that everyone is on equal footing. No titles, no class differences, just a group of friends (literally – the Quakers are the “Society of Friends”).

Having taken years of Spanish classes in school, I was familiar with the concept of two different ways of addressing another person directly. In Spanish, it’s tu and usted for the familiar and formal, respectively. I’d always found it odd that English didn’t seem to have that. Well, it turns out that we did, at one point, but it’s evolved. In addition to the thee/you for familiar/formal, thee was used to address one person, singular. You was the plural. Sort of like we use you/y’all today, in a sense. However, the “plural” you, in the 18th century and before, was considered a more respectful form of address.

That got me thinking. The King James/New King James translations still use “thee,” as do many of the traditional hymns. Well, after researching the “thee” = familiar form of address concept, I changed the way I look at those translations and hymns. Now, back to the meditation.

Growing up, I tended to stay away from the King James translation of the Bible. All its “thee’s” and “thou’s” sounded so stuffy and formal to my ears. I supposed it was appropriate, given the subject matter of Scripture – of course you would be formal when speaking of the King of Kings! – but that didn’t make it any easier to read or understand. However, learning that all that stuffy language is actually the familiar form is perspective-altering. By using “thee,” the authors were illustrating familiarity and intimacy with the Lord. 

As a side note, the two songs we sang before I gave this meditation both had “thee” or “thy” in them. The one right before this was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” And then I give a meditation about that kind of language. You can’t convince me that this wasn’t divinely orchestrated. I 100% believe it wasn’t coincidence.

This is a micro scale example. I was inspired to write this meditation a couple weeks before I gave it, and Gabrielle (our worship leader) doesn’t pick songs much farther in advance than that. If the Lord can pull together something like this – the worship a small church sings on a random Sunday morning and the communion meditation topic – and make it cohesive without us humans talking to each other and coordinating it, then doesn’t it stand to reason He can do that on a macro scale, too? Like, with the Bible, for example – way more than two authors over a much longer time frame than a couple weeks? But that’s a whole different topic. The thoughts just ran through my head right before stepping up on stage, and they’re worth sharing.

In John chapter 15, Jesus tells us that He is the vine, and we are the branches. A branch has to be pretty familiar with its vine, right? That’s a pretty intimate relationship. The vine provides nourishment and support for growth and allows the branches attached to it to flourish. That’s the kind of relationship we can have with Jesus. By taking communion today, we remember His death and resurrection, and we proclaim that our Lord, with whom we are intimate and familiar, is coming again soon.

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