World Communion Sunday
This coming Sunday is World Communion Sunday (traditionally the first Sunday in October). Some churches, the world over, will celebrate this particular sacrament of the church. It is a blessing to belong to a faith community that takes this meal, this act of remembrance, so seriously. It is a beautiful reminder of so many things, not the least of them being how this glorious indwelling presence of God sustains our lives.
Click here to read what communion means to some other writers and bloggers.
Part of its beauty is how meaning is refracted through the act - receiving this bread means different things to different people at different times. It also ushers us into a mystery we will never fully understand. I believe sound Jesus-centered theology asks of us to include children. This, after all, is our family meal, and at the head of the table is Jesus. No family shares a meal without children jostling for more ketchup, or reaching for yet another bread roll. It is not a family meal if there are children in the home but not at the table where mom is encouraging them (threatening them!) to eat their vegetables.
When still in training for ministry, a bishop recounted a story: He was administering the sacrament to a certain congregation, and the children were coming forward. There were three in particular that caught his wary eye - three rambunctious boys barely respecting the dignity of the occasion. They elbowed their way to the front.
The bishop caught the attention of one sheepish boy and took the opportunity to point a finger lightly and solemnly, indicating that he had his eye on him.
Now, this particular bishop was in the habit of adjusting the words spoken over the sacrament. When offering the sacrament to children, instead of the less easy to understand 'this is the body/blood of Jesus shed for you', he inserted, wisely I think, the simpler phrase, 'Jesus loves you'. (I like that, and in fact, use it myself when serving children.)
Once this young boy had received the bread and grape juice, he yelled, 'Yes!' The entire congregation turned their attention to him, servers and bishop included. With a pleased-as-punch expression on his face, he beat his chest once and said for all to hear, 'Jesus loves me!'
Sure, children don't always behave in church, even when the sacrament is served. (At Kinsale this weekend my daughter was caught 'downing' the juice from unused communion glasses; the young son of a visiting Catholic woman reported her. I think this boy feared that, if Erin continued in this vein, she might get drunk!) They might not hold to the governing social mores of us adults, but don't believe for a moment they can't understand the notion of a loving God.
Honestly, all aspects of faith - our doctrines, beliefs, theology - are fractals of this central thing called Love - impressions great and small of that definitive idea. It is how we came into this world; it is what we were born to exhibit; and, in dying, it is our final hope. The Love of God. And this meal positions our hearts perfectly to receive yet again from the Great Source of the world's most beautiful gift. And it is for all.
Please check out the Seven Questions for this week.
You can find Sunday's sermon under the Worship dropdown menu.