What is it about communion that can both draw us and at times force us to step back. Almost every church has their version of having communion. Some denominations have it every Sunday such as my church and others every month or even every few months. I grew up in the Catholic faith where every Mass communion is blessed and taken. As a child, when I took my first communion I did not fully comprehend what it was I was doing. All I knew was that it was part of our faith, that the wafer in my hands was in fact the body of Christ and the wine ( offered to those older than myself) was the blood of Christ. I can now confess that I never did believe in this transfiguration.
For years, this lack of belief in the aspect of being Catholic lead to a questioning of my faith in Jesus. I wanted to believe in Him, longed to in fact but often felt myself a fraud. How could I long for Jesus but not believe in transfiguration? Was I the only fraud continuing to take communion or were there other doubters? I felt obligated to stand up at service and come forward, to avoid answering uncomfortable questions from my mom as to why I had not. Taking it at the end of every service became routine. It was something that we did on the way out the door. I did not take into consideration what communion was meant to be for me. For all of us.
When I converted from Catholicism, not taking communion at the end of every service was still new to me. It had become so ingrained in that this is how services were supposed to go. For a time after my conversion I was wrestling with some heavy things. Fighting against spiritual battles and feeling all alone. Feeling as if I was not worthy to have communion with Him. Forgetting I had been MADE worthy already. That the act of communion is Him meeting us where we are at, right at that moment. It is to remember the sacrifice He made for us, for me.
Slowly, these trials began to subside. Just as they did, things began to change at my church. We were a satellite campus of a larger church and had just gotten a new pastor. He wanted to do communion differently. No more would we be using the pre-made cups of juice with a wafer on top. From now on our campus would use a loaves of bread and a glass of juice. Tearing off a piece of bread and dipping it into the glass of juice. Later when we were launched as a church plant, it was decided to have communion every Sunday. This was an adjustment for many of us but something that we as a church family came together on.
As we came together each week to partake of this family meal, my relationship with communion changed. Part of it had to do with having the responsibility of purchasing the elements. Setting up a table to with loaves of bread and glasses of juice each week. It is rather interesting how God uses the things of our past. My grandfather was heavily involved in the Catholic church as a lay minister. He brought communion to those in nursing homes and the homebound, unable to attend mass to receive it. This thread of connection between the two of us has become evident in my own life. Each Sunday I am the one ( for the most part) to purchase loaves of bread fresh from the grocery store bakery.
At the end of service our pastor calls up those who want to partake to come forward. There are no ushers and sometimes the lines are rather bunched and unorganized looking. But I rather like this aspect of how we do communion. It is not perfect or meant to be perfect.
Those who partake come forward and take a piece of bread the server holding it whispers “His body broken for you.” Some take small pieces and others larger. As someone once said to me, they took a larger piece because they needed more of Him that day. For He is truly the bread of life. That piece of bread is then dipped into a cup of grape juice, the server whispers, “ His blood spilled for you.”
Those times when I get to serve, I make eye contact with each and every person coming forward. If I know their name I try to remember to include say it to them as they take their bread and dip it into the cup of grape juice. Another lesson I have had is that the elements are not what matters. It is our hearts, our seeking of Jesus, of this moment of remembrance. If the bread is a different type or the juice a different brand than normal, this does not matter. Communion is not about the elements, it is about our heart for Jesus as we take it. To contemplate and reflect. Perhaps to confess and seek prayer. A time too to praise Him for what he has done.
This is where I am at with communion. It is where God has met me. It no longer a routine thing to tick off the list of things to do. I no longer feel obligated to take part every Sunday. It is not that I do not need to remember what Jesus has done on the cross. When I do come forward and receive it is with a heart full of remembrance. That is what matters most.
I think of my grandfather bringing communion to those who were unable to attend Mass. Our delivery systems and faith are rather different but the same Jesus meets us there. Feeding that spiritual hunger. Filling us from the inside. He is enough. He is all we need. That is what communion means to me. That we do it in remembrance of the sacrifice made for me on the cross. It is about being cared for and feed by my Lord.
His body broken for me. His body broken for you.
His blood spilled for me. His blood spilled for you.
Luke 22: 17-20
And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among ourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes”. And he took the 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.C