Should I Have a Sad Face During Communion?

Today’s post is about our posture during communion. Before we dig in, would you mind doing a little research? Am I supposed to have a sad face during communion?

What Am I Supposed to Think About During Communion?

I already confessed my habit of keeping my eyes open while everyone else in church is praying. That’s probably why I noticed that the communion tray seems to bring out the sad face in most of the people in my pew. They take the bread and wine (or in our case, cracker and grape juice), and then they bow their heads with a very serious expression. I’ve often seen people crying during that part of the service. I’ve had a heavy heart during communion too. What’s up with that? Thankfully, we don’t have to guess. The Bible gives us specific instructions for what we should do during communion. Jesus introduced His followers to communion this way.

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood'” (Luke 22:19–20).

What does Jesus want us to do during communion? He wants us to remember Him. Specifically, He wants us to remember His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Because He knew about our tendency to get spiritual amnesia, He set up communion as an object lesson to teach us over and over again about the good news of the gospel. Yes, the cross is gruesome. Yes, when we think about it, we may respond with emotions like sadness or grief, but the good news is that Jesus did not stay on the cross. He rose from the dead three days later, defeating the power that death has over each of us. With that in mind, it’s appropriate to approach God with emotions like gladness, gratitude, and joy during communion. Paul also gave specific instructions about how we should handle communion.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor. 11:26–29).

Here Paul acknowledges that taking communion can be bittersweet. On the one hand, it is a way to declare the victory that Jesus’ death gives us as believers. That’s good news and more worthy of a “Whoop, whoop!” than tears. But at the same time, he tells us that communion is a reminder to examine our own hearts. It is symbolic of why we need a Savior so much anyway. When that communion tray is passed take the time to think about your own sin. Ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal anything that doesn’t please Him. Warning: this step will likely be painful. Dealing with our sin is never ever fun, but Jesus died to cover the very sins He may reveal to you in that moment. Repent. Ask forgiveness. And then remember again the good news that you are forgiven.

So, Why the Long Face?

Let’s re-cap. What does God want us to do during communion?

  • Examine ourselves; thinking about the ways we have sinned.
  • Remember Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross.
  • Declare the Lord’s death until He comes.

We can cry if we want to. We can kneel or take another posture of humility. We are also free to worship and express gladness and gratitude. We are free to respond with a wide range of emotions and expressions.

  • How do you respond to God during communion?
  • Is communion a joyful or sorrowful experience for you?
  • Beyond communion, what do you do to remember Christ and His sacrifice?

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.