You never fully appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone. That may be cliché, but it’s also truth. Covid-19 has stolen – for many of us – the gift of communion. One of my professors in seminary once said that no one had ever died from receiving communion (during a discussion about people’s voiced fears of getting sick from the use of one loaf and one cup). Covid-19 came along and said, “Hold my wine glass.”
After too many months of missing out on Holy Communion, the church where I serve decided to throw theology to the wind and began to invite people to monthly drive-in communion services where congregants supply their own bread and juice (okay, so we never really check the alcohol content of what they bring). We were desperate for the body and blood of our Lord so theology just took a backseat. It’s not as beautiful as when we could share the liturgy, the loaf, and the cup within the communal bounds of our sanctuary, but it has been, for me at least, more meaningful.
Holy Communion is a time when the people of God come as one body in all of our messiness, all of our brokenness, all of our sinfulness to the table of Christ. We come not as those already made perfect but as those hungry for the presence of the one who is perfecting us. We come not as rugged individuals who have no need of anyone else but as a community of beggars longing for an experience of God that will carry us through the mundane and the chaotic times of life – together. We come not as people who have anything to give but as a people who need desperately to receive.
There is something that is purely visceral about physically taking into our bodies the body and blood of Christ through the bread and juice. We don’t understand why it makes us feel the way it does, we just know in our gut that it does. We don’t understand how it feeds our spirits, we just experience it doing so. This is grace, pure and simple.
In Holy Communion, God encounters us within our mess, within our brokenness, and in spite of our sin. God frees us of our sin and then feeds us. Christ invites all to the table – even the ones of us who will betray him, the ones of us who will deny him, and the ones of us who will desert him. It is here at the table of Christ where we realize, if we are willing to truly see, that we are all on level ground. There are no super-Christians at Jesus’ table. There are no perfected saints. We all come in the same condition as everyone else – sinners in need of forgiveness, mercy, and grace. It is at this table where we find those things – even if the table is really a car dashboard, even if I can only see my fellow sinners through the glass dimly, and even if I have to supply my own bread and juice (or whatever happens to be in my refrigerator). Thanks be to God!
Rev. Joyce Day
If you would like to view past editions of Grace for the Journey, follow this link: https://sounddistrictnc.org/category/grace-for-the-journey/