Wine With Friends

I wanted to post something for Easter, but I've struggling to come up with something relevant to say other than, like, "Easter is cool" and "welcome back to life, Jesus! Sorry we killed you and everything."

So I thought I'd talk about something that's pretty damn related, but kind of tangential: Communion.

There's a lot of different ideas about communion, and what it represents, and what it does. I'm certainly no authority on it, and even if I were I'm not interested in dumping a theological argument at you, but I can talk about my own experience.

I've participated in communion with a lot of different groups: Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopal, Reformed, Lutheran, non-denominational. I've had a lot of different thoughts about what it is and why we do it.

But the one thing I find most poignant about the Lord's Supper, at least right now, in a divided world -- as I confront my own prejudices, as God forces me to come face to face with they ways I have contributed, in particular, to the divisions in the church -- is how it unites us to the people in the church across denominations, around the world, and throughout time.

I know there are denominations that do not practice communion, and I am passing no judgments on those groups. I am sad for you that you don't get to participate in this coming-together, but that doesn't mean you aren't a part of our table. Think of it like a vegetarian friend passing on the meat dish. Just because you didn't take from one dish doesn't mean you weren't eating with us.


I like to picture New Jerusalem when I want to understand something about God's will. We don't get a lot of images of it, and what there are comes from the notoriously difficult to decipher Revelations, but what is clear is that New Jerusalem is a place where all people live together in unity and in the full presence of God. Sometimes I like to think about it politically - is New Jerusalem a holy fascism, where God's word is obeyed unilaterally? or is it a flawless anarcho-socialist utopia, where the darkness in people has been rooted out and all share freely? or is there even a difference between those two in this sacred place?

Anyway, I envision a really long table (I apologize, but it's about to get a little non-Euclidean in here) but every seat is next to every other. You get to engage in fellowship with all your siblings in Christ and share in the fruits of creation alongside them. There are people you have hated there, but you don't hate them anymore. Now you understand and love them. There are people who have hated you there, too. And likewise, they no longer misunderstand or despise you. You toast each other, and drink wine, and perhaps best of all, there's no hangover! Ok, that's definitely not the best part, but certainly a perk.

Communion is a little taste of that. You get to feel the presence of God, and the connection to all the faithful, in one little bite and one little sip. It's amazing. For a moment, all those ways you've stood in the way of the church coming together are pushed aside. Your judgments, your fears of judgment, all have to leave to make room for that unity.

I've been excluded a lot in my life. I've practically built my identity on pre-excluding myself, if I'm being honest. But when the bread and the wine are on my tongue, I know I've been embraced fully, loved and wholly accepted for who I am. There is nothing that needs hiding, no shame or guilt in that place outside time. Thank God for it.

Comments

  1. "Think of it like a vegetarian friend passing on the meat dish. Just because you didn't take from one dish doesn't mean you weren't eating with us." This quotation actually reminded me of the verse Romans 14:1-3. I regularly have to remind myself to not pass judgment on those that practice their faith differently than me. Particularly in regards to the practice of not partaking in communion. I see communion as the sustaining sacrament, and I need that tangible reminder.

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    1. That's a great verse. I didn't have it in mind when I was writing this but it's extremely relevant!

      I need daily reminders not to let my pride get in the way of the unity of the church. Whatever my theological concept du jour is, I find myself judging those who think differently. I've done a lot of growing in that area, but I realize a lot lately how much more I have to go!

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