I first participated in the Lord’s Supper at seven years old. The Believer’s Table. Southern Baptist. We did this about once a quarter. If memory serves me correctly. Our pastor would stand before the table that had a linen tablecloth draped over it. He’d say a few words, pray, and we’d start passing the trays.
The Lord’s Supper always screamed sacred to me. A privilege. I remember praying for God to help me keep extra still when it came my turn to pass the plates. I could manage the plate of crackers, the body of Jesus. His blood proved a little more than I could handle. The adult next to me would keep a hold of the tray as I held it just long enough to get my plastic cup of grape juice before passing it down the line. Then, I had choices. Either hold the cup of juice in my shaking hands, for what seemed like forever, or try to transfer it from my hand to the little cup holder on the pew in front of me. Most times, both options led to disaster.
The blood of Jesus. Poured out for me. Onto my Sunday best.
In my youth, we started going to the church in town. The Lord’s Supper was served the same way. At this church, they often had singers perform solos during this portion of the worship service. One Sunday in particular, the most gifted pianist and singer in the whole church took a turn. Sacred turned holy that day. I still remember her music taking me close enough to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.
I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it someday for a crown.
These days, I take Communion once a month, the third Sunday, with my Reformed brothers and sisters. I’ve turned in my plastic cup of grape juice served with a wafer at Lord’s Supper for a wafer dipped in a big cup of grape juice at Communion. I leave my seat and dip my wafer in the grape juice. Intinction. Much more practical for younger believers. I bet they’ve never stained their nicest dress with the grape juice.
When it’s my turn to participate, I am greeted by a church elder. The best moments occur when he says my name. I don’t want to be an anonymous person at this table. He knows my name.
“Body of Christ, Traci, broken for you.”
I’ve been known to cross the aisle to take Communion from the elder who I know will say my name. In an effort to extend this Sacrament a moment or two longer, I always cross myself after partaking.
I love my place at this table.
This past Christmas Eve, my church had planned an outdoor service. A beautiful idea of being out in the community, singing Christmas carols via candlelight around a downtown gazebo. Except it was extra cold. And rain turned to snow. I wimped out.
Handy little tool it is, I found out through Facebook about three other Christmas Eve services happening indoors just minutes from home. I wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas Eve with my church family.
However, I knew I’d be surrounded by the Family of God. Just different brothers and sisters in Christ.
I went to a downtown Methodist church alone. Except when you’re surrounded by Family, you’re never alone. In fact, there were a handful of people I knew once I arrived.
I saw the Communion table up front, covered with the familiar linen tablecloth. To my knowledge, I had not taken Communion with the Methodists before. I knew my Catholic brothers and sisters did not invite me, a Protestant, to their table. But I had a feeling the Methodists would offer a more open experience.
When it came time to serve Communion, they did invite me to join them. Thank God for open Communion.
Stepping out into the aisle, a friend of mine motioned for me to stand in line with her. Extending the hand of friendship. When it was my turn, I tore off a piece of a real loaf of bread. I think my portion was bigger because I knew it to be actual, homemade bread. Is that OK?
My friend had told the pastor my first name. So, in this new church, I still heard the familiar words as I dipped my fresh bread into the grape juice:
“Body of Christ, Traci, broken for you.”
And I crossed myself. Right there among the Methodists! Extending my moment with God. Remembering.
What a blessing that service was for me. That they would include me. Upon reflection, how precious Communion is every time I partake. These days, it almost always leaves me in tears.
That Jesus would include me.
Another thought struck me though. One that hasn’t left me yet. The Methodist bread tasted so good. Such an improvement over the wafers.
That got me thinking. Do you think the French use a baguette? It’s my favorite bread of all. And do they dip it in actual wine? Like Jesus did? They probably call Communion by its very fanciest name. Eucharist. If I ever visit a little church in the French countryside, and they offer the Lord's Supper, I sure hope they'll include me.