I am thinking about my Grandma today. And I am thinking about Communion. I miss Communion in our churches, all of us coming together at the Lord’s Table for the Holy Supper with our hands and hearts open to receive. I miss the regular connecting with Jesus, in/with the bread and the wine, and feeling the presence of all the saints also with us in the meal as I rub shoulders with others next to me. I miss kneeling and expressing my heart’s gratitude for a silent moment at the communion rail, before returning to my seat while the music is playing.
When I was quite little, I attended a large Lutheran church. I remember sitting in the corner of the brown wooden pew next to my mother and looking intently at each person’s shoes as they walked back from receiving Communion down the red carpeted center aisle, delighting in the colors and shapes of the shoes! I remember finally learning about Holy Communion in a class where we third graders and our families sat together, and I remember my mom being mad at me because I eagerly held out my hands and took Communion the very next Sunday – not the following Sunday when we officially were to receive our First Communion!
My Grandma and Grandpa were lifelong Methodists and lived several hours away from us. So, I do not know how it is that the memory with me this morning is of being with them both at their church with the huge stained-glass windows. We often attended church with them when we visited, but I am not particularly remembering worshipping with them or Communion at their church. I am not even remembering how they used purple grape juice instead of the wine we had at home. What I most remember today is being back behind the altar in the sacristy after the service had ended. Grandma’s church used tiny glasses for Communion, and I remember her teaching me to carefully dry the clean clear glass with a crisp white cotton towel, after Grandpa and others had washed them. I remember her joyful spirit and the simple act of drying the dishes, reminding me of drying the dishes in her kitchen after a family meal. My Grandma’s faith was visible in her hands, in the actions and the care she extended to others. Simple things – taking flowers to the hospital, stopping to visit an elderly friend and talk, or drying dishes on a Communion Sunday.
My husband and my daughter and I have shared Communion several times in the past year during the pandemic. We have baked Communion bread at home, we use purple grape juice, and we set up a candle and a Bible, arranged on my Grandma’s white tablecloth, on one end of our dining room table. The three of us sing and pray and hear from the Bible and share the meal. Then we wash the dishes. We wash our little Communion plate and chalice along with our regular dishes, and we usually let them air dry rather than grab the white cotton towel that hangs on our oven door! Simple, familiar, and sacred.
I receive a regular meditation emailed from the Henri Nouwen Society, and this is one that was shared recently:
So very many things have changed since the pandemic, in this lengthening pause from coming together for worship and other ways of connecting. Many things continue to change and take a new shape ahead of us. While the uncertainty of so much might nudge some anxiety in us, I hope you are finding that there are some things that remain familiar. Remembering that you are loved by God, and the simple things you do matter. Perhaps sitting at a table, sharing a meal, praying alone or with others, breathing deeply in a moment of silence, and washing dishes. Jesus once said, “those who humble themselves will be exalted,” (Luke 14:11b). Some of the most meaningful acts of serving feel so simple – a caring touch, a word of encouragement, a meal shared when hungry. Jesus also said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matt. 28:20b). If we trust Him, that means he is with us now – in our homes, at our tables, with us as we share the meal and wash the dishes. Somehow, I feel this, and I feel my Grandma is here, too, gently smiling.
Let us pray...
Thank you for coming to meet us in our ordinary meals and through ordinary people. Give us continued patience until we can freely gather again at your table, and remind us that we are your blessed ones, called to serve others in your love. Amen.