In the Assembly of the Saints

priest holding hostia

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Sunday at church I couldn’t hear myself speak, the congregation was so loud.

And it was glorious.

When we serve Communion, our members are ushered up in groups of about ten to a rail that they can stand at or kneel at, depending their preference and ability. Once everyone is that table is lined up, I say, “You are welcome at the table of the Lord.” I then motion for them to kneel and begin distributing the bread.

Sunday we sang a Communion song that has become a standard in our congregation: “Draw Near” translated by John Neale, using a tune by Steven R. Janco. It has a very simply refrain designed to be able to be memorized and sung even as people are standing at the Communion rail receiving the Sacrament.

And as the people came forward and stood at the rail… they sang.

Draw near, draw near!
Take the body of your Lord.
Draw near, draw near!
Drink the blood for you out-poured!”

I announced, “You are welcome at the table of the Lord!” I motioned.

Most knelt.

And as I distributed the elements of the Meal, the congregation continued to sing.

Draw near and take the body of your Lord,
And drink the holy blood for you out-poured.
Saved by his body and his holy blood,
With souls refreshed we give our thanks to God.”

The first table received the blessing and returned to their seats. The second table came forward. And the congregation continued to sing… louder.

And then the third table.

And by the time we got to the fourth table, I couldn’t hear myself welcoming them to the Sacrament. Nearly everyone at the table was singing, along with the rest of the congregation back in their seats.

And this… this was amazing.

It made me think of the glorious, uncountable crowd around the Throne of heaven. Revelation says that they’ll be singing. If my little church was this loud, what do you think it’s going to be like there? How loud will it be?

And yet, if your ears hurt thinking about it, remember: In heaven there is no pain. And not only that, but your ears can’t be hurt. You’ll hear that great song, and you’ll join in, full and whole for the first time, and rejoicing with nothing holding you back.

And I got to see that picture of heaven… while delivering the appetizer of the Sacrament, that tiny taste of the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Yes. It was glorious.

After worship, during closing announcements, I thanked the congregation. I thanked them for singing out, for joining in praise, in thanking the God who is so good to them.

They really didn’t know what to do with this thanks.

But I am thankful. It was a great picture. One I needed.

God is good. And sometimes, sometimes he lets us see just how good he is.

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