Leaving Salem

Leaving Salem


An Uncommon Communion

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Today is World Communion Sunday. It is an annual event in which Christians worldwide celebrate our oneness in Christ, in spite of our many differences and traditions. We pause to pray for unity and peace, and we recommit ourselves to such efforts as we gather together around the Lord’s Table – the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, Communion – forming the centerpiece of the worship.

At my church we observe Communion every week. It is such a nice change for me to take the bread and cup each Sunday. Because in the Baptist church of my childhood, the Lord’s Supper was never weekly; we might have appeared to be Catholic, God forbid. No, we took Communion quarterly, and typically we observed the ceremony at the end of a Sunday night service. We had those stale little wafers half the size of a postage stamp, and lukewarm grape juice – never wine – in tiny plastic cups. Rarely was this ritual ever explained and never was it central to our worship.  It was tacked on as an amendment, an afterthought, on a school night when folks seemed to rush through the motions.

Whether we come to the Lord’s Table each day, each week, or once a year, it’s how we come to the table that is more important. We must be careful in the familiar not to lose the wonder and sensation that Christ sits at the table and gives himself for his people as we take the bread and cup.

Not long ago I attended an Episcopal worship service where my friend serves as the minister. It was a wonderful experience of sights, sounds, and beautifully orchestrated liturgy. And it was unlike anything of my own Christian tradition. Sure, I attend and have participated often in ecumenical services, but to attend a Sunday morning Episcopal mass was new, confusing, and magnificent. I was amazed at small children who were far better acclimated to their surrounding than this free-group intruder. I sluggishly stood, always a few seconds behind the crowd. I found myself standing alone, dropping to the pew after everyone else took their seat. I fumbled with the Book of Prayer and the hymnal, never able to find the readings or the songs on time. I was a nervous wreck wishing I had read Episcopalianism for Dummies before darkening the door.

After the homily, and a number of other confusions for this Baptist-raised child, the invitation was offered to receive Holy Communion. Finally something I understood! I waited eagerly until it was time to go forward, kneel at the altar, and have the elements placed in my hands. Beside me at the altar was a young family: A dad, a mom, and their three small children. The youngest was probably four or five years old. He stood right beside me at the rail, too short to kneel. I looked at him and smiled. He smiled in return, trembling with expectation. He wiped his wet lips with the back of his tiny hand and coarsely whispered, in a voice that could have been heard at the back of the sanctuary, “This is going to be good!”

And it was.



Advertisement
Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment



Previous Posts

An Apple Pie Could Change the World...Or at Least Change Yours
When my wife’s boss first moved to our small town it was more than a little culture shock. Raised on the slick windy streets ofChicago, he had mastered the ways of the urban jungle, but this experience had done little to prepare him for the Deep South. He had never eaten grits. He did not know wh

posted 4:16:42am Sep. 04, 2012 | read full post »

Learning to Let Go
There are things in our life that are very, very good. Money, family, jobs, church, possessions, friends: These are all good and in many cases irreplaceable, but you cannot build your life on these things and expect your life to sustain itself. These can all turn to sand. Money vanishes a lot quicke

posted 4:12:16am Aug. 31, 2012 | read full post »

Getting an Education
My children have returned to school; let the rejoicing begin. But I don't know why they go to school. They know everything already, just like I did when I was their age. See, when I was a kid, I really thought my father was something. I looked up to him as if he was a superhero who could leap tall b

posted 4:05:34am Aug. 28, 2012 | read full post »

Step into the Water
My youngest son was baptized recently. I had the honor of dipping his little shaggy head under the river that runs near our home. It wasn't quite like my own baptism, however. When I was his age, however, I was terrified of water. I didn’t learn to swim until I was an adult, so commanded by Jesus

posted 4:57:42am Aug. 24, 2012 | read full post »

Vow-Keeping Faith
When the ancients spoke of faith, they used a word that described a signature on a contract or a title deed. Faith was the oath that lay beneath such a document. A buyer may not have yet taken full possession of the property, but the closing documents gave them the faith that they one day would. Fa

posted 4:53:56am Aug. 21, 2012 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.