Communion during my childhood felt like the bridge challenge my brother and I gave ourselves whenever we were on road trips. We’d see a bridge a little ways ahead, breathe fast in-out, in-out, and then, as soon as the car was out over space rather than earth, try to hold our breath till we made it to the other side. Our faces turned pink with the effort; we stared at each other with wide eyes, daring the other to hold on just a little longer; and we sucked in fresh air as soon as we were back on solid ground.
Communion was much the same; on rare and random Sundays the silver towers of tiny crackers and grape-juice-filled cups came near, and I would hold my breath—because I was terrified of taking Communion “in an unworthy manner.”
First came the searching for past sins. I began at perhaps a week before and scoured my actions and thoughts up to that present moment. Discover-confess; discover-confess.
Then I held on. My main thought—prayer?—was “Don’t do anything. Please, God, don’t let me commit any new sins. Blank mind, blank mind. Don’t look at anyone.”
I simply had to make it till the two silver trays made their way past and the pastor said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Then the wafer was popped in the mouth. Hold it; try to be thankful in this moment—Remember, this is Christ’s sacrifice. A lot of pain went into my forgiveness!—don’t sin, don’t sin. Then came the juice—accompanied by guilt at my enjoyment of its sweet taste.
Finally, the release of breath. The feeling that, if I were to sin at that point or thereafter, it wouldn’t be quite as big a deal.
Communion was not a celebration; it was an ordeal.
Not now—and I am grateful to the children at Rez for their part in this transformation.
I cannot deny it was a shock to my fundamentally-brought-up soul to see tiny children taking the bread and cup my first Sunday at Resurrection. But week after week, as I watched little ones joyfully bounce up to accept the gifts, something began to resonate within me.
This, this, I wanted to shout one week, is the way to accept it! No pride, no self-awareness, in complete weakness, presenting nothing, simply ACCEPTING.
Communion brings me back to the Gospel, again and again. Like the children, I have nothing to offer, nothing to exchange, and I never will. I come forward with a confidence that is based solely in Christ.
I simply accept the Gift.