at the invitation of a friend, i had communion (outside of my denomination for the first time) this week. it was new. no foot washing. just bread and wine. i read the prayers. i ate. didn’t dip (coz i don’t do alcohol).
i never like taking communion without first knowing about it ahead of time. communion, to me, is a very serious journey, one that needs prior moments of reflection to clear one’s head and get one’s heart on the right track. am i worried sick about a bad interaction? do i have some unconfessed sin? have i talked to God lately? these are the sorts of questions i ask myself and aim to feel at peace about before taking the bread and drinking the cup (when it’s grape juice).
that said, this monday’s experience was very different from my norm. and i’m not quite sure what to do with it or whether to repeat it. i could go every monday. my norm is 4x a year and includes foot washing. i value the washing, the singing (at a traditional adventist church) of hymns while we wash, the praying together of husband and wife or children-parents or friends, the hand wipes some churches give out as you return to your seats for the emblems, the formal serving by deacons. Or. the more contemporary agape feast, the french bread we each grab a chunk of, the larger cup of grape juice that doesn’t leave you parched, the grapes and other fruits that make up the pre-communion meal. and the singing.
but so what? is all that necessary? and how do we define necessity within this context of remembering Christ, his life-death-resurrection? what adds or subtracts from the celebration of his sacrifice of love and whether or not i’ll be able to recall it sufficiently and positively impact other’s lives as a result for the sake of the gospel? admittedly, the routine i’m used to could be perceived as mere tradition. why wash feet when they’re not even dirty? why use grape juice instead of wine when the Bible doesn’t give a clear enough distinction between the two…you’re being legalistic! and why add on the singing or anything else that makes it a much longer service than need be? cut the time and you could comfortably do it more regularly like everyone else…
regularity. i think that’s the kicker in my head. the longer process is really beautiful to me and i don’t want to do it every week; i want to savor it.
but who am i and why do something just because i like it? what about the community? good question! that’s another part of the equation–everyone else. the mass exodus from the sanctuary to the smaller rooms in which we wash feet, sing and pray. talking to others along the way, some of whom you haven’t seen all week and may not have seen during a regular service. there’s the feisty elderly woman who gives everyone mints, just because. and the young couple with their 3 children–there’s nothing quite like watching a teenage boy wash his mother’s feet. it’s a communal journey. and once everyone has been served and has chewed and swallowed, we form a large circle around the church, take the hand of our neighbors and sing “bless be the tie that binds.” we’re in this together. we’re remembering Christ together.
and then we leave with cleaner feet and the peace of God in our eyes, dropping money in an offering plate at the door to help others in need. Others…b/c we’re all on that level with Christ as our ultimate provider.
this is communion, too.