A family of three from our church congregation just moved away. They were only with us for a short time, but they left a lasting impression on all of us. Their quiet, peaceful and joy-filled spirits drew you in like the fragrance of sweet jasmine and the brightly colored saris that Naleema wore gave us a window into the life of India, their native home. It was a single act, however, that made the most impact on me. I noticed it one day when they were kneeling to receive Communion during our worship service. What captured my attention was that they were not wearing any shoes; they had taken them off before they went up to the front. At first, I wondered it it was just on thie particular day, but every Sunday I would look up and there they were – kneeling respecfully with no shoes. I, myself, was humbled by this seemingly simple, yet bold act of faith. They were acknowledging to God – and without knowing it to me – that they were in the presence of God and this moment deserved special attention. They understood that they were on Holy Ground.
Martin Luther said this about the Lord’s Supper in the Large Catechism: “For here in the sacrament you receive from Christ’s lips the forgiveness of sins, which contains and conveys God’s grace and Spirit with all His gifts, protection, defense and power against death and the devil and all evils.” Wow! I don’t think we always stop to take in what a powerful and amazing gift this is! It is through the Lord’s Supper that we humans are united with Christ. We have the opportunity through this sacred meal to touch and be touched by Him.
Are we worthy? Certainly not, but God does not require us to be worthy or perfect to receive Him. He only asks us to believe. The words “This is my body given for you. This is my blood shed for you.” are meant for each one of us individually. God gave His life for each one of us – not merely as a collective whole – but each and every human being. It is a gift that is truly too good to be true, and yet it is!
The removal of sandals before entering a holy place was an ancient custom and examples are given in the Bible such as when Moses encountered God in the burning bush (Exodus 3:5) or when Joshua met the commander of the Lord’s army (Joshua 5:15). They were told to remove their sandals for the place where they were standing was holy ground. God is still speaking and revealing Himself to us today, but we don’t necessarily need to physically remove our shoes to acknowledge His presence – although it might certainly cause us to pause and think about it more seriously.
We need to humble ourselves before God and soak in this sacred event. We are privileged to be able to partake of this priceless treasure – this extravagant gift as often as possible. In this Holy Communion, God has created a space for His grace to enter our lives and it is truly Holy Ground.