Putting Community in Communion
My home congregation, and every congregation I visit, has a strong theology of communion. They acknowledge the importance of the community of believers partaking together. Our unity and common faith in Jesus is celebrated. And every congregation I visit has difficulty putting their belief into practice.
Part of the problem is the fact that most churches meet in buildings designed for sermon delivery, not sharing communion. It is hard to remember community when everyone is facing the front and there is almost no possibility of eye contact, much less communication. Time constraints do not help this process either. The sermon time must not be infringed upon. After all, that is what we are paying the preacher for so we must get our money’s worth.
But lately I have found a practice that has enhanced my sense of community as I partake. I spend my communion time looking at people. Here are just a few people with whom I shared communion a few Sundays ago.
The man whose wife had just died. It was sudden and he is still grieving. It was one of his first communions without her. I saw a sweet family taking the Lord’s Supper while holding their brand new baby. And there was the brand new Christian partaking for the first time. And there was the couple who is trying to rebuild their marriage. A few rows over was the sweet couple married almost 70 years. There was a person with cancer. A row over was a recovering addict. On another row was a husband helping his wife with early Alzheimer’s partake.
I think of these brothers and sisters I love. I pray for them. Sometimes after church I will catch them and tell them I was thinking of them when I took communion. Those become holy moments.
This practice has helped me to recapture the sense of community in communion.