Many of the abstract parts of Christianity are difficult for me, but communion has always felt easy. Instead of quiet prayers or beliefs, communion provides something to hold, smell, do, and taste. Regardless of how we serve it, I love the physicality of the bread and wine. Whether given thimbles of grape juice and tasteless wafers or hunks of soft bread and goblets of wine, communion has always been an invitation and a rare chance for me to press my knees into the cushion of the altar. It is not just the physical action but the singularity. A person at the front hands me a hunk of break and says, “This is Christ’s body broken for you.” Spoken just to me. Given just to me.
I’m not especially drawn to tradition or formalities. I prefer a church service with a guitar to an organ. I’d rather wear jeans than my Sunday best, but communion has always had a way of fixing what is broken inside me. I know certain denominations believe different things about what the bread and wine signify or what happens or who can take it. I don’t care if it is a symbol or a mystery. I just like the chance to remember what Jesus did on His last night with His friends. To break bread is holy whether you do it at a table or an altar or in your living room.
Christ did not only speak of the bread of life but often of actual bread. Christ physically feeds the multitudes, He turns water into wine at a wedding, and He breaks bread with His friends. The metaphor doesn’t work without the physicality, without the hungry hands accepting His gift. Maybe this is the reminder I need each time my church offers me communion. That faith is complicated and abstract, but also simple enough to be held in my own hungry hands.
My particular church celebrates communion once a month and offers an open table, meaning that anyone is welcome to partake. This means that if my own children have made it all the way through the service I take them with me. I know they don’t fully know what it means, but I still bring them down the center aisle. I know many faith traditions have different conditions for communion, but I find hope in the fact that I don’t have to completely understand it to accept the gift. The same could be said for many more aspects of my faith.
One communion Sunday, my son stopped coloring on the program long enough to listen to what the person breaking bread at the front was saying. The pastor explained what communion signifies and means as he ripped the round loaf in half.
My son, only six but already a realist, says, “They just bought that at the store. It didn’t come from God.” Then repeated it in case we didn’t hear or in case the people in the pew behind us didn’t hear. I laughed out loud instead of shushing his observations. Maybe I shouldn’t have but his honesty stood out in a place where people often hide their questions. I let my husband try to explain the bread as a symbol, which was far too much for his six-year-old head. He came to the altar with us anyways. Probably for a snack or the relief of not sitting still for a few minutes or maybe just to ask where they bought the loaf. He stuck out his little hand and gladly took the store-bought bread and the grape juice in the little cup from his friend’s dad. He ate and drank and headed back to our pew to squirm and color.
My son was correct in his statement. I’m sure they bought the bread at the store. I wondered for the first time if the church had a Costco account. I’m pretty sure it is just King’s Hawaiian bread and grape juice they buy in bulk. It made me wonder who provided the meal that night a long time ago, in the upper room. Then, it was also just bread and wine in a cup and twelve friends around a table. Where the meal came from did not matter. What made it important was who was there and the words that were said. What matters most is that Jesus was willing to be broken and spilled out for them. And for me.
Once a month, I tear off my piece of grocery store bread and drink my plastic thimbleful of grape juice, and remember how ordinary things can become so holy.Leave a Comment
A beautiful reminder of what Communion truly means. Thank you,
Dawn Ferguson-Liitle says
Michelle thank you for what you shared so true. I believe to do with Church. God looks at our heart not the outward appearance. To see if our hearts are right with his word we are living as his word says. As you can see the Churches some of them. They make you feel you must dress smartly the Man in Suit the lady in a skirt or nice smartly dress. Kids the same. But you know I look at our world. I look and think about people who don’t go Church for what ever reason they don’t go. We the true Church are the people who are meant to be saved. Being the hands and feet of Jesus to world around us. Praying helping and loving all people of all walks of life. But if you and this were I agree with you. You shouldn’t have feel you have to dress smartly to go Church or a Church were people and kids our dressed nicely they the ladies are wearing a bonnet or a hat in their heads. As if you were a person with not much money and couldn’t afford to buy anything deer or nice only your jeans and maybe they have a hole in them. Your top out of charity shop. If you needed prayer and wanted to go to a church for it or help. As the Church and the people in in especially if saved are to love people and kids of all walks of life like Jesus would. Jesus would not look at what you were wearing. He love you beyond that. You if a person like the person I just described saw a church all the people in were dressed nicely you needed help and prayer. The Church meant to a place of love like Jesus love all people of all walks of life and not what they wear. You look at that Church say I can’t go in there the way I am dressed and I being a woman don’t have a hat or bonniet to wear. You feel unloved. The Church should never make people feel like that. Even if dressed like the person I just said. They should welcome you with open arms like Jesus no matter what you wear. That is why even if you wanted to go Church that they all dress smartly and you don’t have the money to buy clothes like them. If you came that Church in your jeans with the holes and charity shop top on. They should all love you like Jesus and for how your are. Not look at what you are wearing. Look at your heart giving you the love and care you need showing it like Jesus would. That you feel right at home. Get the help and prayer you needed if they could not give it to you they know who could and tell you were to go to get it. That to me is the true Church. I can go to my Church the Salvation Army in my Jeans and a top. They accept Mr for who I am and Love me for who I am. They don’t look at me for what I am wearing. That is way all Churches should be. With the simple true love of Jesus. I say Amen. As I said God looks at the heart not like man who looks at the outward appearance. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little. Keeping you all in prayer incourge. Xx
grateful that Jesus accepts us as we are.
Ruth Mills says
Behind in my daily readings from this site. So thankful this article is still there! Thank you for sharing this important perspective. Blessings!
Thankful for your encouragement.
rob marison says
i realy enjoyed reading that
rob marison says
Thank you so much