The Power of Communion

Kids worshiping together on the skate ramp for Family Fun Nights at the Table

I have always been a person who is much more about the WORD than the Sacrament (Communion and Baptism) part of ministry. I love to hear the Bible read and preached; to hear the words of Scripture in music and in prayer.

Communion liturgy -- I could take or leave it. You certainly won't hear me singing the Great Thanksgiving prior to communion. That blessing was bestowed only for my seminary worship class, and their ears may never be the same. (Of course that blessing is also bestowed to our livestream audience on Sunday mornings, whenever I forget to turn off my microphone during hymns) ...

Still, lately I've been reminded of the power of Holy Communion: about the Sacrament's ability to transcend our human frailty and bring disparate groups of human beings together in the power of the Holy; to diminish ego and criticism and hatred and divisions - to humble ourselves in the sight - and the taste - of the LORD.

I was first reminded of it during a sparsely attended Sunday night service in rural Central Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. An interim pastor, in poor health, could barely make it through his sermon without breathing heavily. But when it came to the Words of Institution: suddenly he was enlivened and emboldened, the power of the Holy Spirit running through his veins and suddenly the church came alive and I remembered we were there not to glorify ourselves or the pastor but to glorify the one and only God who has given Godself so freely for us: in this holy meal.

Tonight I was reminded of this Holy power once again, as we gathered at Easter for our Wednesday night summer programming: Family Fun Nights at the Table.

Each Wednesday night at 6:30, we gather. We sing songs together, we hear a lesson preached from of our college interns: the faithfulness and authenticity of whom delights all the kids and renews the faith of the adults. We then share Holy Communion: depending on numbers, sometimes in a circle and sometimes in lines. We pray together.

Josh with one of our awesome summer interns, Petra

Then we run outside for FUN: for Sno Cones and Pastor Dunk Tanks and Bouncy Houses and Clowns and Balloons and ... whatever has been planned for the night.

Carnival Night at Family Fun Nights at the Table

It's deceivingly simple; though organizing the entertainment, refreshments, and lessons for each week is a lot of work, and a huge credit goes to our summer interns and to our Children's Ministry Director, Rachelle, as well as the rest of the youth and family and music staff.

Some Wednesday nights: like tonight, after a long afternoon of running around the east side of the suburbs, and multiple meetings - it would be easier to just go home.

But we come together anyway: imperfectly, tiredly, in our overwhelmed and desperate mass: desperate, even if we don't know it, for a taste of the holy, for a glimpse of the Spirit's presence in our lives.

Jake on Carnival Night

We've had hugely attended weeks of Family Fun Nights, and we've had smaller gatherings, like tonight. Ultimately, though, the numbers don't really matter. What matters is the perfection of the Spirit: of the meal of the body and blood - in the midst of our own imperfection.

What matters is as we meet each other, Jesus meets us, too.

Ultimately, that's why I leave each Wednesday night somewhat exhausted but also enthralled: reminded of the ways God keeps God's promises, if only we continue to gather together, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25).


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