Sunday, June 5, 2011


crumbs drop to the floor.
wine splatters.
we are imperfect yet.
and we are joyful.
we are moved.
we are your Body.
filled up on your body.
we leave a trace of our feast in this place.
may we do the same in our world.

I wrote this a long time ago, after communion at the church I was then attending. We stood in a circle, passing the elements, some with beatific smiles, others with tears of contrition, me dropping tears from the overwhelming sense of connection with other children of God--despite the fears and doubts that made me different. All welcome to the table.

Last week, the pastor at the little church I visit when I can handle church did Communion in a new way. I appreciated the newness and the explicit instructions, as I've seen Communion become a way to make sure folks really know they are outside the loop because of unfamiliarity with a church's long-standing rituals.

Before every service he holds a small demonstrative illustration for the children. This week he asked a little girl to be his model as he showed the children how unforgiveness cloaks our hearts in layers of old dirt and defenses. He asked her about things that make her mad, and with each affirmative, her dad dressed her in layer after layer of old, over-sized work clothes. Eventually, the clothes piled until she could barely move. After, he asked the children how they could remove the old ratty layers representing the burdens our hearts carry. They knew. Forgiveness. Her dad peeled the clothing off in one layer to reveal a fresh, normal sized little girl again. Pastor P. asked the dad to deposit the layers of old ratty clothes in front of the table holding the elements of communion, and invited the congregation to keep them in mind.

After his sermon, he invited all the congregation to move to the center of the church, "There'll be no-one on the left, no-one on the right. All of us, shoulder to shoulder." He asked us to remember the burdens left behind when forgiveness reigns. The elements were to be passed down the rows, and as we received the elements, we were to praise God, and thank God for God's mercy and forgiveness. Then, we grasped the elements, and offered them to the person next to us with, "The grace so freely given to me, I extend to you."

It was messy. And slow. And wonderful. I saw a middle-aged lady and elderly lady hugging in tears. I saw more abled bodies assisting less abled bodies as they offered the elements with grace to the next individual. I've no idea how long it took. We fumbled, forgot our lines, struggled to balance the trays, and generally looked like humans participating in the divine mystery that God loves, God unites, creates, redeems, invites.

Even during this "journey of faith", as Pastor P. calls the doubt-storm I live in right now, I never lose a sense of the mystery and attraction of communion. It's beautiful and macabre. In it, I feel a connection to things deeper than I can express. I feel as qualified to partake of Jesus as those more believing than me, and those less believing. And I pray that the love I feel in that time will make its mark in the world in which I live.


  1. Chesha, this is beautifully written. I wish I was home to share that moment with you.

  2. I love this! Last year I read a book called "Take This Bread" and I highly recommend it!