The Lord’s Supper is something I have come to greatly appreciate as an adult. Growing up, Communion was something passed along in a plate along the pews from person to person on the first Sunday of every month. And unless we stayed for multiple services or missed the classes designated for the children and the teenagers, we missed it completely. I’m quite certain that throughout high school and college, I only joined the church a handful of times in taking the Lord’s Supper. It was set apart only as a meal of remembrance and I didn’t understand why I needed it when I was certainly capable of remembering on my own.
On the few occasions I was in the “adult” service at the beginning of the month, I sat, mentally going through every sin I have ever committed or been tempted to commit, terrified that I was going to be one of the few who died from taking Communion improperly. Thankfully, I have, up until this point, been spared from being stricken at the doorsteps of the church Ananias and Sapphira style.
The first time I participated in the Lord’s Supper at my PCA church, I immediately felt out of place. People were standing up and walking forward as one would do in Mass to receive the Elements. I awkwardly stood and fumbled down the processional. As I tore off a piece of bread the elder looked me in the eye and said, “The Body of Christ given for you.”
I mumbled a quick thank you, as if the Body of our Lord was his offer, reached for a little cup of wine and was met with another elder looking me in the eye and admonishing me with, “The Blood of Christ, drink and be blessed.”
I made my way to the seat and realized that I didn’t need to worry about going through my laundry list of sins. They were forgiven! I had confessed and been reminded of God’s grace at the beginning of the service. These moments were moments of joy and gratefulness. God had given me a gift and I was holding the very elements of that gift in my hand. I started crying as I swallowed deep within myself God’s Goodness.
My view on Communion has changed since that first Sunday in the PCA church. I have developed different theology and I know now that there are mysteries that, for now, are reserved only for the knowledge of the Lord. Mysteries that look like a small piece of bread and sip of wine but that are so much more.
I don’t always cry when I partake, but often I am so overwhelmed by grace that it makes its way to the corners of my eyes.
When I was in college, I came across an Easter recipe on Pinterest. It was simple, something to do with children. So I packed up a few of my nine younger siblings into the car and off we trekked to the local grocery store. We pushed through the bombardment of bunny rabbits and brightly covered eggs to find the few ingredients needed for Resurrection Rolls.
We arrived back home, and I quickly began to set up, my four year old brother toddling behind with the marshmallows. As we rolled out the dough, dipped the marshmallows in butter and then in cinnamon sugar I reminded the children of the jewish burial customs. We talked about how the myrrh the wisemen brought was a symbol of the death to follow because it was used to prepare the bodies for burial. Then, we wrapped the marshmallows up tightly in the dough and placed them in the oven.
It doesn’t take more than a few minutes passing before the smell of cinnamon is floating through the air.
The kids bounce impatiently asking me to open the oven to check and see if the rolls are ready like clockwork every thirty seconds. When we finally pull them out, I match the children’s impatience and break open a roll to show them that it is empty, the marshmallow body we placed inside is no longer there. I then eagerly take a bite and, as melted sugar begins to burn my lip, am reminded that the marshmallow body is still present in its doughy tomb.
My mom, seeing the mark on my lip that I’m desperately trying to cool down with ice, chides my impatience and greedy attitude. I’m left with a blister to remind me of my attempt to imprint the story of Christ’s passion and resurrection in the minds of my siblings. But a small mark is forever imprinted on my skin as a reminder of my eagerness to taste the sweetness of the rolls.
The first time I visited a local Anglican service, I was taken back by the people filing forward and kneeling to receive the sacrament. My thirteen year old sister was visiting and looked up at me wide-eyed wondering if I would walk forward and kneel as the others had. I timidly made my way forward, eyeing the person next to me to make sure I knew the proper way to hold my hands. Did I cross myself after the bread? Or was it the wine? Both perhaps? I knelt, humbled and uncertain. I was an outsider, unaware of the proper way to receive this grace. But despite my uncertainty, grace was placed in my hands, just as I was.
The next week, I was less focused on myself and more focused on the children. Running around in excitement before the service turned to fidgeting in their seats during the sermon, then to the children steadily, carefully walking forward with the offering and the elements. They handed them to the priest then set up the kneelers and bowed before the cross. Then, eagerly, each child knelt and held up their hands in anticipation. One child, who couldn’t have been older than three, smiled and stretch out his hands to the priest, impatient to taste the goodness of the Lord.
I repented of my own, reserved attitude.