Friday, July 1, 2011

A Note on Communion

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My parents, brothers, and I began attending an independent, fundamental missionary, Baptist church soon after moving to East Tennessee, when I was eleven. It was a step in the right direction for our family, as we had not attended church regularly up to that point. I am thankful for the time I spent in this particular church and the education I received there, and, certainly, the good outweighed the bad; however, in order to share what is on my heart regarding communion, I have to share the following...

I viewed communion negatively for well over two decades because--in the church where I grew up, whenever the Lord's Supper was observed--great emphasis was placed on I Corinthians 11:27-30. This scripture was presented in such a way that I worried, sincerely, that I would get sick or die if I took communion; after all, I was PRET-TY sure that I would never be sin-free or worthy enough for the Lord's body and blood! So, let me confess: I dodged communion on many, many occasions, and--whether I dodged it or not, every, single time I realized that the Lord's Supper was about to occur--I was filled with a sense of dread, and there was some major inward groaning going on. ("Oh, noooo...")

Without going further into theology, if you are a Christian who struggles with his or her worthiness as pertaining to taking communion, please spend some time praying about, and researching out, this topic. Below are some links that explain my current way of thinking, but don't stop there if you aren't satisfied; pray and study in an effort to find peace on the subject...even if, in the end, you disagree with me.

I reached a significant turning point in 2008, when I took part in a Bible study under the leadership of my dear friend Rachel Huff, who came away from a retreat talking about taking communion in a non-church setting. She started sharing (in her excited-90 mph-Rachel way) about how it was ok to take communion within a small group, or even alone. While she didn't make communion sound less sacred, she certainly made it sound more accessible and AVAILABLE as a means of coming into fellowship with God. After listening to her, I felt led to encourage my family in an observance of the Lord's Supper over the holidays.

I talked with my mom about it, first. She sounded a bit taken aback, but she was not only willing to participate but also to prepare unleavened bread for the celebration. ((I hadn't thought much about the bread for this observance (or any other) of the Lord's Supper at that point and was fully prepared to just cut up a few slices of Sunbeam, but Mom felt strongly that the bread should be unleavened.)) And the rest of my family was also willing to participate.

On New Year's Eve 2008, Mom, Dad, my brother's family of four, Jim, Cade, and I gathered around my brother's dining room table. I was fairly large with Clementine. Cade and my nephew CJ had accepted Christ as their Savior in 2007, so everyone at the table had professed salvation with the exception of my younger nephew, Boone, who was 3 at the time. I could tell that my brother was a little bit nervous/uncomfortable, but he sat at the head of the table, opened his Bible, and led the family beautifully through the Lord's Supper. I have never in my life experienced anything more powerful, sacred, or solemn, and--when it was over--there wasn't a dry eye in the room (at least among the adults). I remember my dad asking: "Why haven't we done this before? Let this not be the last time." What an amazing blessing to be able to share--with the people I love most in all the world--our absolute security in Christ!

Nothing has been quite the same for me, regarding communion, since then.

Jim, the children, and I have been attending Fine Creek Baptist Church, here in Powhatan, since Clementine was six weeks old (so a little less than 1.5 years). For several months, everytime we celebrated the Lord's Supper, I felt like God was speaking to me, telling me that I should be preparing the bread, but it took me awhile to get up the nerve to say anything about it. Tradition, sometimes, is dear to people's hearts, and I didn't want to offend anyone or overstep my bounds. But, finally, after a prayer meeting, I blurted out: "Where does the bread come from? I am supposed to be preparing the bread, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or step on anyone's toes. I've been praying about what I am supposed to be doing in the place, and the only thing I know for sure is that I'm supposed to be preparing the bread." And my beautiful, good-hearted friends (God bless them!) just said: "Oh! That would be great! We celebrate the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of every month. This can definitely be your job."

So it is 11:30 pm on July 31st, and I have scrubbed my hands, my rolling pin, my countertop. My hands are holding, kneading unleavened bread of my own making. My hands are creating something that will be consumed as if it were the Lord's body. I am touching my Lord's body. I am thinking about the people who will be eating this bread. I am praying for them, and I am filled with the Holy Spirit and that delicious, divine peace that comes in knowing that this, THIS is MY JOB.




I published the above on facebook August 1, 2010 and share it, here, as part of my effort to get the words I want to share with my children in one place, also in order to link with my friend Anne for Heritage of Faith Friday.  This past New Year's Eve was the third for my family to share communion.  As of this coming Sunday, I will have been preparing the bread for my church for a year.  It remains my favorite "job."

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