what we talk about when we talk about communion.

This year my student book clubs are at lunch. I know that some libraries don’t allow food, but I figure that they eat and drink (and who knows what else) around the books when they take them home, so it’s okay with me if they eat lunch in the library. I love reading with them, of course, but I also love to watch them eat. I learn who is picky and who never eats lunch and who eats Doritos. I watch them trade chicken wings for potato wedges and pour Gatorade into cups to share. Sometimes I even contribute a little something.

I did not know until recently that Quakers consider any common meal shared by followers of Jesus to be communion. This makes sense to me as I watch my girls take what they have and multiply it like the loaves and the fishes. I love the way that reframes breaking bread (or chicken nuggets or chili or pizza) with someone, turns it into a holy act.

You have probably already figured this out, but I am kind of obsessed with communion. Sara Miles changed the way I looked at communion a bunch of years ago when I first read her book (and again when I read it last summer), asking big questions about who exactly we should be sharing our meals with. Being a nursing mom gave me a new perspective on the body as food. Serving communion has taught me about the holy imperfection of feeding one another.

I grew up with the plastic-cups-and-wafers version of the Lord’s Supper as well as a version where the elder handed my dad the bread, which he then passed out to his family. (That church was big on headship, but I can’t make it work theologically, where there is someone between me and the body of Christ.) Now we generally partake by intinction about once a month, not quite often enough for me, but we can’t always get what we want.

Mike and I had a lot of discussions about when Atticus should take communion. We don’t come from a tradition that requires confirmation or even a confession of faith. I stand firmly in the idea that it is about nourishing us so that we can, in turn, take that nourishment to the world, that it is as freely shared as Jesus’s message for the world. Do you want the bread of life and the cup of forgiveness? Then you should have them. You don’t have to say anything or believe anything or do anything to receive.

Atticus took communion for the first time on Christmas Eve, because what I talk about when I talk about communion is that it is for everyone.

What do you talk about when you talk about communion?

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2 Comments

  1. Nancy

    I remember giving David communion when he was quite small. He wanted to partake of the bread and “wine” – our wine was grape juice – as it was passed around. I didn’t think that God would deny him the bread of life and the cup of forgiveness. I still don’t – in fact, I’m sure that he wouldn’t because, as you say, communion is for everyone. None of us can do anything to deserve it, so we must come as we are, and that is how God accepts us.

    Posted 1/29/2013 at | Permalink
  2. I love this. Communion is for everyone, and I love watching kids take communion. It is a holy moment even if they don’t understand all the nuances yet. Thanks for this post, Kari. Made me teary-eyed.

    Posted 1/30/2013 at | Permalink

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