How Can We Prepare Our Hearts to Celebrate the Lord’s Supper?

How can we meaningfully enjoy the beauty of the Lord’s supper without letting our unhealthy cultural habits get in the way?

Indians love celebrations. Whether it is religious festivals, birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries, we do not mind spending time, money, and effort on making the most of special occasions.

However, our focus on celebrations can often shift from primary to peripheral things. We can celebrate the buffet at the wedding more than the bride and the groom.

As Indian Christians, we need to be conscious of the benefits and pitfalls of our cultural tendencies. This will help us meaningfully enjoy the beauty of the Lord’s supper.

Unity in Diversity
Partaking of the Lord’s Supper in India, the land of unity in diversity is a special privilege. Here we can experience a glimpse of heaven on earth, especially for those who live in metropolitan cities.

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper as one family—sons and daughters of one Father, united through our true brother, Jesus Christ. In this meal, it does not matter what caste, creed, or tribe to which we belong.

Yet often, we tend to form cliques and compete with one another. Just like the Corinthian church, some of us still say “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos” (1 Cor. 1:12).

We forget we are all followers of Christ—different parts of one body, eating the same meal prepared by our heavenly Father. In the Lord’s supper, we remember that people from different languages, tribes, and tongues come to feast in the same Christ.

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that we belong to Christ and to each other. We are Christians first before any other identity the world ascribes to us or that we ascribe to ourselves.

Forgiveness and Favour
In a shame and honour culture, we have a heightened sensitivity to recognise our sin, be ashamed of it, and grieve over it.

Our feeling of shame and desire for honour can also help us grow in awe of Christ’s accomplishment on the cross inspiring us to true repentance.

However, this sensitivity can also make us judgmental of others. It can lead to pointing fingers and deciding who should abstain from taking part in the Lord’s Supper. We miss out on examining our hearts and confessing our shortcomings.

Through this meal, we can experience a glimpse of heaven on earth.

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that Jesus was condemned to shame so we can receive the honour Jesus earned for us. We do not need to fear condemnation from God but we can receive forgiveness through confession.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Through faith in Christ, we can enjoy the benefits of the gospel in the Lord’s Supper. We can confess our sins to God and he can empower us to pursue his righteousness—not to earn his favour, but because we already enjoy his favour.

Food and Acceptance
The Lord’s Supper celebrates our unity with Christ and each other. But when our hearts are not right, what unites the church can become what divides it.

Should we drink from one cup, one piece of bread, or many? Should we use wine, grape juice, or even coconut water? In the digital age, we argue about whether we can receive communion remotely for online services. In our attempts to “fence the table,” we can build barriers instead of bridges.

Important questions for discussion can easily turn into reasons for division.

In most Indian cultures, food and hospitality go hand in hand. A house visit is incomplete without serving or receiving a cup of chai and some snacks. It can be considered offensive if we fail to fulfil these expectations.

It is beautiful and astonishing that our Lord invites us to feast in him at his table. We are invited to eat and drink with him, not only in the here and now, but also at the great wedding feast of the lamb. The apostle John says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9).

The Lord’s supper reminds us that we are accepted by God in Christ. We all have a place at the table, irrespective of who we are or what we have done. In Christ, we belong to God.

May this unity we receive in Christ always protect us from divisions between one another.

Mind and Body
Historically, Indian culture has been open to mysticism, meditation, and mindfulness. It is not uncommon to focus on our mindset as we engage in spiritual activities.

Scripture warns us against partaking of the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner (1 Cor. 11:29). As Indian Christians, we do not have to try too hard to understand the reverence that this meal deserves.

As we prepare our hearts for the Lord’s supper, we must avoid the tendency to focus on emptying our minds of all their filth. Instead, we must enjoy filling our minds with the truth about Christ.

Failing to do this, we fail to recognise our sins and cheapen God’s grace. Ultimately, it is the grace of God that leads us to repentance (Titus 2:11-12).

As we fill our minds with the truth of the gospel, it will help us truly reflect on the greatness of God’s grace.

Assess and Examine
Indians are familiar with an educational system that places a huge emphasis on performance, tests, and regular evaluations.

We know what it is like to take an exam. Moreover, we easily understand what it takes and what it means to pass or fail.

As we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are able to make quick assessments of ourselves and give ourselves a grade. We try to take stock of our lives and confess our sins to our gracious Saviour.

It is beautiful and astonishing that our Lord invites us to feast in him at his table

Yet he does not just give us grace marks. He gives us a perfect score; not because of our own effort but because of his accomplishment on the cross.

Assessment and examination are appropriate. But sometimes our hearts turn to pretending and performing instead. We rely on last-minute Bible study, quick prayers, or other superficial spiritual activities.

In an unprepared way, we tend to miss out on the joy of experiencing forgiveness through repentance.

Without a growing awareness of our sin in the light of the magnitude of the cross, we cannot enjoy the grace and mercy of our Lord. As a result, we do not grow in awe of God and his love for us.

Sacrifice and Selflessness
Just like the Israelites in the wilderness, we tend to ruminate on the past. We idealise our former way of life, forgetting we were slaves and we crave its pleasures. Instead of rejoicing in our new identity, we tend to draw comparisons to our past life that rob us of gratitude and joy in the present.

As the apostle, Paul says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6).

Indians are beneficiaries of the freedom that came at the cost of the lives of our brave freedom fighters. We have memorials to remind us of their sacrifice for our sake, so we do not forget it.

In the Lord’s Supper, we have a simple memorial to remember the greatest sacrifice that delivered us from oppression, bondage, and slavery to sin.

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