Tuesday, December 26, 2006

bread of life

Serving Communion is such an interesting thing.

When people arrive at the front of the line, usually they look into my eyes.
I say “the bread of life” and then they pull off the smallest possible piece of bread they can. If they accidentally get a piece that they might be able to taste, they look at me and make a surprised look and sometimes they even say “ooh! Sorry!”

They often say, “thank you.”

And then they move on to the juice or wine, and I always wonder whether they can even put their miniscule bit of bread in the cup without getting their fingers all sticky. But by then I’ve moved on to the “bread of life” line for the next person.

Last night I had one of the youth (a sophomore in high school) get to the front of the line and say to me “yeah, the bread of life. I got it!” He’d obviously heard the line about fifty times while waiting.

I also had lots of kids come up and try to take big pieces, only to be reprimanded by their parents: “just take a little piece!” which is usually followed with them looking at me and apologizing as they take their own microscopic piece of bread.

Why do we have this compulsion to take the smallest piece of bread ever? I want to just break the pieces off for people so I can give them a large enough piece that they might get the “feast” idea rather than the “famine” they seem to operate out of. We are not going to run out of bread, I swear. And you know what? This is a feast, a party, a celebration—it’s okay to take a big piece. At least big enough to get it in the juice without getting your fingers in too. In fact, I think it’s GOOD, even BETTER to take a big piece. This is the bread of life, strength for the journey, food from heaven! Do you just want a little bit of life, a little bit of strength, a little bit of heavenly food? No! This is your chance to be fed with God’s own self. Take a big piece. And teach the kids to take big pieces too! I think I’m going to do a “worship workshop” for kids and teach them about communion…and I’ll tell them to take big pieces. :-)

As for “thank you”—well, I always want to say “you’re welcome” which I’m not sure is exactly right. Though perhaps it is—“you are welcome to this feast!” Or perhaps I should just say “thanks be to God.” Or perhaps I should just say nothing. I don’t know. I’m sure I’ve written about this before somewhere but I don’t know where…so I can’t remember how I’ve dealt with this before. Last night, though, I just smiled and looked to the next person.

Suggestions for communion:
Don’t change the bread for Christmas Eve. And don’t use rye bread. It’s kind of spicy, and mixes strangely with grape juice. Always use Welch’s. And that’s all.

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