When I was little, my church had “The Lord’s Supper” four times every year. Some people call it that, or Communion, or the Eucharist, but you know what I’m talk about. Like I said though, I was little, too little to understand what it all meant and because of that I would throw little temper tantrums when the Lord’s supper was passed out because everyone at church got a snack, crackers and grape juice, except for me. Pretty soon my mom learned from my emotions and started taking Ritz crackers and a sippy cup of juice on the days that we had the Lord’s Supper so I wouldn’t complain. I remember sitting there munching on my crackers and sipping my juice while everyone else had to sit and wait for the preacher to get finished and to have the elements passed out. I didn’t understand then why their crackers and juice were any different than my crackers and juice.
We took communion yesterday at church, and for some reason these images of my childhood flashed into my mind. It had been a while since I had done it, and it again made me wonder about the difference between the crackers and juice of my youth and the bread and wine of today. I started to wonder yesterday if I had been doing this whole process wrong my entire life. I wondered why I was even doing this, what purpose does dipping a piece of bread in a glass of grape juice serve? I don’t feel any different after, I don’t have any magical powers, and on most days, I don’t feel any closer to the Jesus it all represents. Maybe it is my attitude, or maybe there is a lot of crap in the way, you know, blocking the magical powers and Jesus stuff, before it can all sink in.
Then I realized that there are a lot of ways that I take communion, many different attitudes yes, but really I take it each time with some sort of outcome in mind and in hope. Let me give a few examples:
1.)The Shot – Sometimes I take communion like an alcoholic would take a shot of alcohol, it’s just to get by. Sometimes I feel as though I need this communion not as a symbol, but as a literal way to make it through the week. I feel like it gives me some sort of strange powers or something, like all the crap I’m dealing with will be cured if I just say a little prayer before I eat the bread and drink the juice. This works for about 30 minutes until I go home and am forced to confront all of that stuff again, thus the shot has worn off and I’m back where I started.
2.)The Pill – Other times I take communion as if the bread and wine were a pill. Step 1, place bread on tongue. Step 2, chew a couple of times. Step 3, take bread with wine. Rinse, repeat if desired. Communion doesn’t work like a pill, it is not a temporary fix to our ailments. Communion is not the Advil to our headaches, rather it is the remedy to ourselves. It is not a temporary fix to pain, but an eternal declaration of Christ. There is nothing healing or magical in the bread and wine, it is a symbol of life.
3.)The Childhood – I ate Ritz crackers and drank Welch’s when I was a child because I just wanted to fit in with everyone else, I was jealous. I watched everyone else do it so I wanted to be apart of that. I suppose that in a small way, this is why I wanted to become a Christian originally, because it was all I had ever seen or known. Eventually, I grew out of that, and being a Christian wasn’t about joining the club or anything like that, it was about stepping into a relationship with Jesus.
4.)The Command – Do you ever feel like you have to do it? Like maybe all of these rituals of religion has weighed us down so much that we have forgotten why we even do them? Thankfully, communion is not like that. If you break it down, I suppose, it is a little weird. “Hey, let’s eat this bread, it symbolizes Jesus’ broken body. Now, let’s drink this juice, it symbolizes Jesus’ blood.” You want me to eat flesh and drink blood? Was Jesus a zombie too? Communion isn’t a command, not that I know of anyway, but it’s an option…
5.)The Cross – …it’s an option to take part in the Kingdom of God. An option to take up your cross and start a relationship with your Creator. By taking the elements, we are saying that we have no idea what is going on but we still choose to follow. Like the disciples in the upper room, we are a little lost on what is about to happen, but following the supper, redemption comes. After the hard times, redemption comes. When we are ready to give up, redemption comes. And when it’s all said and done, we find a home in redemption.
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