July 21, 2021

Familiarity Breeds

In a database where I keep track of our Lord’s Day liturgy, which passages are read and sermons preached, I have a column for which pastor led the service on any given Sunday. It turns out that today is my 500th Lord’s Day led, which means that it is also the 500th communion meditation I’ve given.

I remember when we started having communion every week thinking, how will I be able to come up with a different meditation ten years from now? Here we are. More important than that, some among us wondered if communion itself would become stale and dry, if we would become hardened to its importance.

The truism we typically believe is that familiarity breeds contempt. It’s catchy, we can see how that could be used as a diagnostic to explain why we have contempt for something. Yet ignorance also empowers contempt, as do pride and envy.

I was meditating on the assumed power in the verb: familiarity breeds. Breeding doesn’t happen by proxy, there are no breeders emeritus, you cannot sign up for distance breeding. Husbands become fathers through familiarity with their wives. Why don’t Christians ask if marital familiarity is dangerous? Maybe Christians are too spiritual to ask it out loud, maybe some do think it. But familiarity is powerful to produce fruit.

In the Bible, familiarity with God breeds panic and praise, weeping and worship, awful dread and inexpressible joy. As it turns out, familiarity isn’t the problem, we are the problem.

Dinner with the family every night could become monotonous if mom despised the work and dad despised the interruption and the kids despised being despised. But when there is familiarity with sacrificial love and intention, contempt doesn’t have a place at the table. Watering your yard once a quarter doesn’t make it more green. Sex with your wife once a quarter isn’t much covenant renewal.

The Lord’s Supper doesn’t stay special because of scarcity, but by frequent gratitude.


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