Yesterday I helped serve communion. I stood next to our associate pastor and held the cup. I looked people in the eye. I offered them the “cup of salvation.” We sit in back, looking out over the backs of these people’s heads. Yesterday, I saw their faces. The person giving the bread asks, “What is your name?” I heard their names, what they wanted to be called. The woman whose name tag said “Bobbie” who gave her name as Barbara. Everyone may call her by the nickname, but at the Lord’s table she wanted to be known by her full name. Other people were the opposite, their name tags giving a more formal version and them intoning the intimate name. And then, at the end, in what might be the most intimate communion I have experienced, my associate pastor called me by name and served me and I responded in kind, calling him by name and giving him the Bread of Life, the Cup of Salvation. When I sat down, the power of the experience kind of overwhelmed me a little. And I may be just a bit congregationalist at heart because I’m not sure that is an experience that should be reserved for a special group of people.
After church the associate pastor and his family came over for lunch and to work on the church’s website. I grilled carne asada and mahi mahi and put out a taco spread and we gathered around the table, four grown-ups and four kids, asked God’s blessing on the meal and the afternoon, and ate together. And that’s communion, too. (I also love watching his 8-year-old with my almost-2-year-old. His boy came in at one point and excitedly said, “Dad, I made a new friend!” Squeak just ate up the attention.)
They left and we quickly picked up and set-up for our extended new members class whom we were hosting because our pastor was leading a retreat this weekend, but we wanted to get the meeting in since the year is almost up. Or something like that. Anyway, the food was brought to us this time, Yay!. One person brought soup and corn bread, another salad and a couple bottles of wine, and another dessert. I made a pitcher of water and set out bowls, plates, and utensils. When this class was proposed, I was surprised at the idea of having dinner as a part of it. I’ve certainly been to my share of potlucks or meal gatherings, but the ongoing meetings have been coffee and dessert if anything. Beginning the meetings by gathering at the table and breaking bread together has been revelatory. That’s where we have gotten to know one another so that later, when we gather for the study, we can go deeper. For a truly motley group, we have been able to know and be known, and I think the meals are a large part of that.
So yesterday was all about the table. And the kids and I enjoyed finishing off the carrot cake from last night for breakfast (don’t tell Computerguy). And that’s its own kind of communion, too.