It’s been a week since I graduated with my Masters of Divinity. The event seems far away already, almost like a dream. For weeks leading up to graduation, people would ask if I was excited. No, excited wasn’t an emotion I was experiencing. I felt grateful and humbled, tired and worn thin. I felt honored and deeply loved by God for the opportunity to learn and grow, to find healing and move toward wholeness, and to discover my voice and value.
But while I did a ton of work to reach that end, that journey wasn’t taken alone. My husband and children endured each and every high and low with me. They read and edited papers, and fielded my countless theological musings. They supported me when I served in the church and when I obediently walked away. I also had a small army of friends who came alongside us over these many years of learning. They supported me through each semester by caring for my family, whether that was holding space for the tears to flow, transporting my son to soccer, caring for my girl, or simply asking, “How’s school going? What are you learning?” Sometimes my answer was short and sweet, but more often there was a flood of thoughts filled with the mess of words that emerge in the process of deconstruction, unlearning, learning, and reconstruction. This army has given me permission to not have it all together…like ever. They have prayed me into and through the past 5 years, from before application to graduation.
Last Thursday, as a thank you, my husband and I gathered many of them together to commune, by breaking bread, drinking wine, and remembering the Lord’s goodness. As I looked around the room at each of their faces, I realized how very loved we are. Through acts and words that were simple, small, bold, and brave, each person there revealed the glorious Grace of God.
For me, Holy Communion is less about what is consumed, and more about whom the consuming is happening with and where that consumption is happening. Often that Holy meal happens on the sideline of the pitch, a coffee shop, cafe, or living room. It can happen in a classroom, on a trail hike, while building a home in Mexico, or traveling the dusty roads of Rwanda. I know when true communion with Christ through Body and Blood has happened, because I leave those spaces a different and transformed person.
Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance if me.” In many churches, the “this” is partaking of a small wafer or bite of consecrated bread, and taking a sip of juice or wine. While this is an important tradition modeled by Jesus and established long ago in the Church, I believe when we settle for crumbs handed out during “move the masses through” worship gatherings, rather than the Divine banquet feast, we are missing out on the heart of communion.
What if the “this” is actually the gathering itself, sharing of life’s victories and defeats, questions and doubts, during a meal that is accompanied with genuine conversation? What if the “this” looks more like a sharing of hearts and the holding of hands, while voices lift in songs of praise and petition after the meal? I wonder what the Body of Christ would look like if we participated in Communion by circling around actual tables lined with broken bread and grape and people, instead of just the symbolic act of lining up or passing of the plates, with each person in their own little world of thought? Can you imagine what would happen if we moved from an individualistic communion to an embodied community communion?
God has given me glimpses into the beauty that is Communion on a few occasions. Friends, there is little that compares to such an experience, little that gives me hope like those gatherings do, little that reveals the muchness of Jesus as when I sit with believers and non-believers, followers and non-followers, sinners and saints gathered around a table covered in a bountiful feast. Truly, it is beautiful, Holy, and oh so very good.