Sunday, August 5, 2007

thoughts on the bread and the cup

I was never a big fan of communion. That little plastic cup and the tiny bite of bread - it did nothing for me. In fact, I found it oddly embarrasing or something. I mean, the symbolism really is kind of hard to understand, don't you think? At the church I grew up in my disconnect to the symbolism was sort of overwhelmed by the dramatic way in which we took part. No sitting in the chairs, passing the brass trays around and drinking in one fluid motion for us. We walked around to each other, broke off pieces of the bread and traded them, prayed with each other, and hugged for sometimes two full minutes per friend. I didn't really have to think about my actual consumption of the juice and bread because I could focus on the one-another part instead.

As I grew up, so did my faith. It has had huge ups and downs. After each major season of doubting I usually had a breakthrough of some sort in which I yet again knew that I knew I would believe in Him forever and that I was glad He had saved me. After enough of those, I was completely sold on the concept. My doubts these days may be about Christianity or how exactly to walk it out, but they're never about Him. So communion is now one of my favorite things. It really changed for me one day when I was visiting a big church. We only knew two families in the whole place, and we were in a city we were unfamiliar with. This church does the communal cup and you dip your bite of bread into the cup as the preacher tells you "This is the body of Christ given for you and the blood of Christ shed for you . . .". As I watched so many strangers form lines and stream to that cup, I cried and cried. I suddenly got it. Well, maybe not it. I certainly couldn't preach a sermon on why exactly Jesus wants us to pretend we are eating His flesh. But I connected to the concept. Because the people in the room were all so different from each other. I knew almost none of them. But when it came to that cup, we were one. We all had that in common - the belief that Jesus was somebody, that He means something, and that we're better off because of Him. Because of that moment, I now greatly prefer the communal thing - (I've never been much of a germaphobe). But even the little plastic cups mean something to me now. It doesn't matter how we do it. I just love the fact that it's done.


Anne Dayton said...

This is a really cool story.

pam spratt said...

I love communion. It causes me to seriously examine my heart towards others and evaluate my relationship with Christ. I like symbolism and it really doesn't matter to me if communion is served with wine & bread or crackers & grape juice. I'm just grateful Jesus explained it with something that makes sense to my simple heart and mind.