Monday, October 5, 2009

World Communion/Communion of the Saints

From the prayer at the end - "This is not a feast of insider secret knowledge; it's an invitation to join Jesus at the table..."

Yesterday was "World Communion Sunday." What that means (for readers who aren't involved in church) is that Jesus-followers from all over planet Earth celebrated "The Lord's Supper" with a sense of awareness that we are all united around a common table. World Communion means that, despite different understandings when it comes to many of the details, we share the same faith. And that, in this symbolic coming together - eating the bread and drinking the wine - we stand in common affirmation of good news worth celebrating.

So this morning I have been thinking about "Communion". It struck me, for the first time, that I have included a story about bread and wine in each of my first three books.

In "GET REAL" I shared about playing Amazing Grace on the guitar while the bread and wine were passed, looking into the congregation at all those people who loved and cared for me, and being unable to do anything about the tears streaming down my face.

"In My Heart I Carry a Star" included a glimpse into Christmas Eve services; the extension of communion where the church is completely dark and then candle light is passed, one to another, the symbolism of light conquering darkness and the irrepressible nature of love.

Then, most recently, I devoted an entire chapter of "The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian" to the Lord's Supper. My personal theology evolved - is evolving - in the context of community. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the section about a communion service in England, when I was a young teen:

"Communion seemed like the sum of everything, a kind of cumulative truth. The heartbeats of the people, the color of the hymnbooks, the solemnity of the scripture reading, the hands shaken, the hymn singing, the porcelain trays designed to catch the drips from the umbrellas at the end of each pew...

"... I shared that service of pilgrim covenant with my wife Rebekah – whom I did not yet know, with my grandparents – who were in another town, and with their grandparents from a by-gone age. That first occasion, my initiation into bread and wine, would have been a meaningless rite outside of the framework of love and fellowship and commitment that was and is the cornerstone of my ongoing faith journey.

"My small group of friends, the collection of people I love so deeply here in my home church today were, by extension, linked with me in Christ – all those many years ago. Rebekah, David, Karin, Stan, Carolyn, Peggie, Gerard, Christine, Sandy, Ben, Lynn, JoEllen, Steve, David, Carrie, Peter and Dawn. I felt my own lips move in silent prayer, as I do even now."

So this is my prayer today - and I beg the indulgence of those of you who do not share my faith perspective - in fact, I'd like to invite you to join me:

"Thank you, awesome Creator, for the potential for unity that is made possible when we understand exactly what you accomplished when you broke the bread and poured the wine. This is not a feast of insider secret knowledge; it's an invitation to join Jesus at the table. Amen."

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