Though some of the details have been embellished to make a point this is a
At one of the churches I used to attend I would help ‘clean up’ occasionally. On one of these ‘clean up days’, I went to work in the kitchen (even CHURCH kitchens can get a bit unHoly at times). I worked away on the floors and cabinets and sink and then I walked over to the refrigerator and opened the door and almost screamed at the top of my lungs at what I saw.
Instead I slammed the door shut (to preserve the ‘scene’) and I pulled myself together and hurried to get PastorMan who was reading or doing some other equally vital task.
Side note: I have an older brother so I have seen dirt and filth and weird disgusting type things growing in a refrigerator…but nothing akin to this atrocity!
“PastorMan, you have to come now! You aren’t going to believe it!” I told him in rushed tone.
“What?” he asked.
“Just come with me…NOW!” I retorted.
I’m sure given our previous experience of mold growing behind a backsplash he was much more inclined to come and see whatever atrocity I had located. We rushed into the kitchen and I grabbed the refrigerator door and steadied myself. I swung open the door and again, I audibly gasped.
PastorMan looked inside, darn near putting his whole head in there in his fruitless search for this OBVIOUS and blatant offense.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Don’t you see it?” I screeched.
‘See what?” he said without inflection.
“The blood of Jesus is EVERYWHERE!” I said as I pointed to the squirt bottle of grape juice we used for communion. The bottle had a spray nozzle that apparently had reached optimal environment to self-dispense in the refrigerator. It had dripped and dripped and completely covered the top shelf on the refrigerator door and was dripping down onto the other shelves on the door. I was aghast. I couldn’t believe he didn’t see it.
He just burst out laughing. Apparently this was a common problem when the ushers forget to put the LID on the dispenser after communion. He pulled the offending bottle out and put a “cap” on it and stuck it back in there among the puddles of juice, grabbed a cold Dr. Pepper and turned to leave.
I smiled politely and as he turned to leave I shook my head in disdain, removed the bottle and cleaned up the spilled “blood”.
While this story makes me laugh, it is a reminder of how a SYMBOL can somehow take on more meaning then it should.
This past weekend we visited another church with some friends and it happened to be communion Sunday. They announced it and started passing around a BUCKET, a white plastic bucket. I was raised in a very civilized suburban Baptist Church where communion ‘bread’ came on a sterling silver tray and another sterling silver tray carried the tiny GLASS cups with the “blood of Jesus” juice in them. You would eat the bread and put the tiny glass cup in the “rubber-lined hole” next to the hymnal holder, all neat and tidy. I can't recall, but I imagine we had to "wash up" our hands before communion as well.
In this new church they passed a white bucket and you remove what appears to be a little plastic wrapped container with liquid in it. Upon closer inspection the top was sealed separately and contained the “wafer” and then under another seal was the juice. It was all very neat and tidy and self contained. It was actually very cool. Then they pass the buckets around again to deposit the used containers for clean-up.
At our church we go to the front and collect a wafer and little plastic cup of juice and go back to our seat to pray and take communion together. The last time we did this there was so much talking and visiting it felt more like we were at a social gathering, not to mention these tiny plastic cups lying all over the floor. I can DEFINITELY see the merit in passing a "trash bucket" around to collect these little cups.
All these experiences and this being the week of celebration of the origin of this event, got me to thinking about what my expectations are and what my “issues” are with these observances.
In the church where I first learned about communion, it was a truly sacred event. It was held once per month and it was only taken by those who had received salvation through Christ. It was "reverent" if you will allow me that word. The atmosphere was quiet and very serious. It was sometimes darkened a little in order to give the visual effect of the seriousness of the event.
I realize churches today are in flux and are constantly evolving to ‘accommodate’ the people that come. I’m not sure if accommodate is the best word, but that is how it appears. I do know Jesus did not set out to make others feel “unwelcome”. His whole attitude was one of love, unity, and acceptance (just as I am). I also know post-modernism has affected most all experiences traditional church services brought. Let me just say I’m not opposed to evolving to something that ultimately draws us nearer to God. I struggle because of my own experience, accepting communion in these new-fangled ways.
When I reflect back on the Last Supper I believe that Jesus broke bread and brought that cup of redemption to the disciples to symbolize his ultimate God-ordained purpose and his desire that we REMEMBER this in our own lives. I want to remember I have chosen to die to my self and to accept his blood as my redemption. He alone is Christ and He alone is my savior.
I wonder what was going through his head….Jesus, that is…during this supper. He knew what His Father had asked of Him. He knew of the betrayal to come. He knew…yet he sat with the very men who would betray and deny Him…the men who had been with him endlessly for three years. He sat with his disciples with the same loving demeanor he had carried with them for all those years.
I’m going to try to REMEMBER that it matters less HOW or WHERE or WITH WHOM I take communion then WHY I take communion.
I take communion in remembrance of Him!
Now… where can I get my feet washed?