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Like a Rose Communion Service
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By Martin Fancher

Due to scheduling problems - to make sure we didn't miss communion this last quarter, we scheduled communion for a Friday night; something we hadn't done before.  From the time we entered the church until the evening experience was over - we knew this was something special and something we had to repeat!
 
We went through the normal routine of a short sermonette focusing us on our Savior and what the communion experience is for each of us.  We reminded ourselves what God wanted to accomplish through this service, and then we separated into three groups for the foot washing experience.  The men, the ladies, and the couples/families served one another in the ordinance of humility.
 
We gathered back together to take part of the Bread and Juice - representing the body and blood of Jesus Christ and how these are critical to our standing before God.  I shared with them that “God longs to take away our sin and make us whole again.”
 
After we completed Lord’s Supper, our women's ministry leader came up and told a story of a young girl who attend a VBS at a church in large community.  After VBS that evening, her parents did not come to pick her up; they thought someone would bring her home.  However, no one knew where she lived.  While in tears, people were asking her to tell them landmarks near where she lived to help them find her home.  But she couldn't think of any and in her fright could only cry.  Finally one person asked, "There's a large cross near the center of the city, do you live near there?"  Upon hearing that, she stopped crying and the beginning of a smile came across her face. With tear-stained face she looked up into the face of the person who asked her the question and said, "Oh yes, the cross.  I know where that is!  Take me to the cross; I can find my way home from there!"
 
“The way of the cross leads home;” this was the theme of our communion service.
 
We were asked to stand in the main aisle of the church in the sanctuary - a roll of paper had been unrolled and completely covered the carpet in the center aisle.  We all found a place to stand as the women's ministry leader carried a vase of red roses around and handed on long stem rose to each person standing there.  While this took a few minutes, we enjoyed holding the rose and smelling the fragrant scent that began filling the room.  Many stood with the rose, held by both hands, with the flower within an inch or two of their nose.  Many had their eyes closed enjoying the quiet and the fragrance.
 
After everyone had arisen, we were reminded that Jesus was the Rose of Sharon -- we listened to the passage in Isaiah 53 that showed how Jesus was treated for OUR sins.  We were reminded at how horrific our sins appear by heavens standards. Then we were asked several questions to ponder about our lives and our relationship with Jesus.
 
After this, we were abruptly told to drop our roses on the papered floor.  We were shocked, believing we misunderstood what was asked of us. We held on to our roses and looked to the person asking us to do this - and we saw her drop her rose to the floor.  One by one, slowly, very slowly, roses began to drop around the church.  Thump ... thump ... thump…. thump . . . thump - until ALL the roses lay on the floor.  As one observed, it hurt to drop this beautiful flower on the floor.  But it got worse-- she stomped on her rose and twisted her foot literally crushing and tearing her rose apart.  We were asked to do the same.  You could see the confusion on each face -- it wasn't a natural thing to do.  It was hard.  Very hard.  And then the connection began to sink in -- it was my sin that crushed Jesus . . .  it was MY sin that broke Him apart and hung Him on a cross.  Tears were shed as the personal nature of what we had done and what Jesus had done sunk in.
 
We prayed and were asked to leave silently - not to allow small-talk to divert our attention from what we were thinking.  
 
As we left a small station was set up with 4 x 4 slips of paper and red watercolor markers.  We were asked to write our name on a slip of paper, take a tack and as we left the building to go home, to stop and tack our name on a 6 foot cross that was built by the parking lot.  The last thing we saw as we left that night was our name hanging on the cross . . . but it wasn't over yet.
 
The next morning - Sabbath morning - as we passed the cross while going into church we noticed something about the cross that caused our hearts to skip a beat.  During the night, while the dew was permeating the paper on the cross, our names written in red watercolor had begun to run, and our names looked they were written in blood that was dripping. . .  Our sins put Him on the cross, but it was HIS BLOOD that saved us.
 
We've now decided that this communion service is the best we've ever experienced.  We're going to do this many more times in the future.  But it was agreed by all - that this was the most personal, experiential communion we've enjoyed and not-enjoyed, all at the same time.  It made us all think about the sacrificial system of the Old Testament - and knowing that our experience was not with the blood of a lamb, but with the blood of THE LAMB!
 
That next morning I learned that the previous evenings service was so moving for the deacons and deaconess's that they stayed and had a small service after everyone left -- they dug a hole at the foot of the cross and buried/burned the leftover bread and juice and covered it back up.  Then they cleaned up the roses in the sanctuary and laid them in a pile at the foot of the cross.
 
Martin Fancher pastors the Defuniak Springs, Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church.