This past Sunday, I saw lots of people adorned in red outfits. I first thought that the Alabama and Georgia fans were trying to show each other up in school pride. Then I remembered, Valentine’s Day was Thursday! I’m a little dense sometimes! Cupid’s arrows, hearts, and roses were on display in our grocery stores this week. These are symbols that represent the central theme of the holiday – love. Symbols are important to us as human beings. Humans use symbols to express specific ideologies and social structures that represent aspects of their specific culture. Symbols are meaningful because they embody a much larger idea.
The novelist Dan Brown (who, ironically, has made a whole lot of money trying to explain symbols in controversial books like
The Da Vinci Code
) writes, “Telling someone about what a
symbol means is like telling someone how music should make them feel”. Brown has a point – symbols are powerful because they take on a connotation of their own and through their
representation inspire us with a mere glance. They often defy explanation because of our strong repulsion for or attachment to the symbol. However, symbols beckon exploration and ultimately explanation.
In matters of faith, symbols are ubiquitous. I would contend that without explanation, those symbols in our faith risk having their meanings rendered nebulous. For instance, the cross is
simply a medieval torture device or a trendy piece of jewelry if one is not provided explanation. However, through the witness of Scripture, we find that the cross of Christ is symbolic of a
reversal of order where weakness becomes strength, submission leads to liberation, and death gives way to life. Likewise, partaking in the Lord’s Supper without explanation could lead some to simply conclude that Baptists are masochists who enjoy ingesting stale crackers followed by
thimbles of grape juice hardly sufficient to dislodge said dry crackers from one’s throat (I’m just kidding on that part… kind of). Obviously, the Lord’s Supper means more than that! As does Believer’s Baptism, sacred space, and the gathered church.
This Sunday, we gather together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Before you come to worship, I hope you heed Paul’s call to prepare yourself by pondering the meaning of Holy Communion. Here are some passages that can guide you in that task of preparation: Matthew 26:26-29; John 6:53-54;
1 Corinthians 10:17,11:17-34. In preparation for that sacred moment, we will continue our sermon series, “Qualifying the Called”, as we observe another miracle in Moses’ making that
is symbolic of God’s own provision for each of us. I hope to see you as we ponder the deeper meanings of our sacred symbols in worship this Sunday.
Expecting His Best,
Stephen V. Allen, Senior Pastor