Thursday, May 27, 2010


Sunday evening I shared dinner with three friends at my apartment and then we drove out to my site and shared the Lord's Supper. We planned this, but Saturday night I became afraid. Never in my life have I taken Communion outside of a "church" and without a "minister" present. Is this okay? Are we allowed to do this? So I prayed, and reread the scripture about this meal, which said that those taking it ought to do so in "holy awe," taking to heart its purpose of calling to mind the death of Jesus. The focus is on the hearts of the people, not on where they are or who they are. There is no requirement for someone with special status in the church, or with a certain degree, or with a lofty spiritual track record, to be present before the Lord's Supper can be celebrated. The point is to remember Jesus' death for the forgiveness of sins. That is all.

From my apartment we carried four glasses, a jug of grape juice, a small plate with a slice of bread, a Bible, and a candle. We joked that it was a processional, and indeed it was. We called the girl who carried the candle the "light-bearer."

During the drive I realized I forgot the stool we would set the elements on and stand around for the meal. But soon I thought perhaps God made me forget, because our improvised alternative was much better. We parked on the side of the road in front of the site, continued our processional into the woods, and sat down in a circle on a carpet of pine straw. The candle was lit. It seemed appropriate to have a light at the center of us.

There were some logistical hiccups, like when to read which passage of scripture, who to pass the bread to whom, when exactly to pour the juice, etc. - all expected for a first time, and could be easily ironed out for the next. But the improvisation also brought out some beautiful elements that we will have to keep. Such as when one of us picked up the plate of bread, turned to the person to her left and said, "Christy, the body of Christ, broken for you." This continued around the circle, each person first being served and then serving, until the first person to serve was served last.

We had mentioned over dinner that we should think of a song to sing after we take Communion. Jesus and his disciples sang a song together after the Last Supper. But when we finished the bread and cup we still hadn't thought of a song that we all knew. We sat in silence for a minute. Then I said I knew the first stanza of Amazing Grace. One of the others said, "Done." We sang it twice, to a chorus of evening birdsong.

Later I marveled at the democracy of initiative as we stumbled our way through this sacrament. One person started the serving of the bread. After we took the bread and sat silently for a minute, I said, "The blood of Christ," and we all drank in unison. Another asked me to read the scripture a second time, which I gladly did. Yet another suggested we sing Amazing Grace again; joyfully we obliged.

This reminded me of the verse, "There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:28) Two of the members of our group of four are married to each other, but you wouldn't have known it to watch our little gathering. The two didn't sit next to each other (though not purposely), and so didn't serve each other the elements. As joint heirs with Christ, the Son, children of the Father, we are all siblings. We will remain so even after death, when all marriages end. Marriage is temporary; spiritual brotherhood is eternal. As it happened by the "accidental" order in which we sat, marriage was deferred to the Beautiful Community.

One dream for this new house is to have regular services centering around the Lord's Supper, but I never imagined sharing this sacred meal in these woods before construction even begins. Now I feel that the place is ready.

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