The fourth section of the Easter Vigil is the celebration of the Eucharist. Before I can get into the ‘how’, you must know the ‘why’ of this meal for me. There are different names for this holy meal that we share. Calling it the Lord’s Supper reminds us that it is a meal begun and hosted by Jesus. Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it is an act of holy and intimate sharing, making us one with Jesus Christ and part of his body, the Church. Calling it the Eucharist, a term taken from the New Testament Greek word, reminds us that giving thanks to God for all that God has done is an essential part of the meal. ‘Eu’ means good. ‘Charisteo’ comes from the root word charis, which means thanksgiving, grace, or gift. The Great Thanksgiving. The Good Gift.
Communion is so much more than a religious tradition.
It is more than a mid-service snack. It is an act of worship.
It is a memorial. It is a celebratory feast.
A picture of remembrance.
It focuses our hearts and minds on Jesus. Every time you and I eat the Lord’s Supper, it is a sermon without words. Jesus left us with a picture so we would never forget. When we share Holy Communion we are doing what Christians have done throughout time. We come to the table and take the bread and wine to remind ourselves that all of life is holy. That’s why the Eucharist moves me like it does. It never stops speaking to me of The Christ who is reconciling all things right here and right now.
I love the fact that from the very beginning, ECL has participated in Communion every week in our worship service. This is not always the case in post-modern, casual worship gatherings. Some people ask why do you want to take it every week? I want to ask, why wouldn’t you want to take it every week? Communion reminds me that God is God, and I am not.
One of my favorite authors, Rachel Held Evans depicts it beautifully in her book Searching For Sunday:
“The Table can transform even our enemies into companions. The Table reminds us that, as brothers and sisters adopted into God’s family and invited to God’s banquet, we’re stuck with each other; we’re family. We might as well make peace. The Table teaches us that, ultimately, faith isn’t about being right or good or in agreement. Faith is about feeding and being fed.”
Because here’s the thing, what makes this a kingdom meal is not the quality of the people invited. The kingdom of God is like a glorious mess where broken and whole, judge and felon, liberal and conservative, enemy and friend all receive the same gift. It is mercy and grace that we did not earn and did not expect. And the Table is the place where we all come together. We eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup. We are equal.
One of the things we do in our community is try to honor the variety of needs in this meal. We have those among us for whom eating bread with gluten makes their body ill. So, we have friend that bakes bread each week for us to share that makes it more inviting for our gluten intolerant friends. We also have people in our community that for them, alcohol stands as a barrier to spiritual wholeness. So in this meal, we always offer juice so that as much as we are able, we fling open this invitation to feast and take away as many barriers as we can.
I had to take the time to say all of these things ABOUT communion for me to help you understand why this is a holy, precious, vital, weighty piece of my story. Every time I come to The Table, I am thankful for the community that I feast with. This healing meal is the answer to hard weeks. It is the first aid to my broken heart. It is the calm to my storm. It is also the constant when there is none.
For me, it has been and will continue to be the feast that prepares me for traumatic times and allows me to celebrate life. And there was no time more vital for this truth than in the fall of 2008. I was 17 months sober and a storm was coming. It was going to bring destruction. It was going to demand an open table. And most importantly, it was bringing some resurrection power!