We are living in a moment of history right now. Each day of news feels like a month of news under normal times, doesn’t it?
So we need to stay connected to Jesus more than ever before. And one of the ways to do this is through the ancient practice of taking Communion. But how can you do that if your church building is closed on Sundays?
Several years ago, I wrote a blog that I wanted to repost. May these words bless you! And may they stretch your theology where it needs to be stretched! 🙂
The most meaningful experience I ever had taking Communion wasn’t with bread and wine in a church building, but with a banana and Mountain Dew in a garbage-filled field. Let me explain…
I was born and raised in the Catholic church and Communion was the high point of the Mass. It was a big deal!
My passion for Communion has stayed with me all these years and that’s one of the reasons we offer it every single Sunday at our church (The Mission). I have had many “God moments” in serving the elements and have talked to scores of people that had encounters with God as they received the bread and grape juice during our service.
But as I think back, the most meaningful Communion experience I ever had didn’t take place at St. Ronald’s or inside any other church building. It took place in a field while I was going to seminary out in California.
I was on a weekend retreat and before we left, it seemed fitting to celebrate Communion together. But we didn’t have any unleavened bread and wine. So a couple guys were commissioned to find substitutes for these while the rest of us went outside. We walked to an empty field near the retreat house. In the middle of this field was a sizable pile of garbage. People had been using this field for illegal dumping.
We gathered in a circle around this pile of garbage and someone pointed out a pair of shoes in the trash. Not one random shoe (which would be what you would expect to find) but a pair… and they looked to be in good shape. Someone pointed out the shoes and said, “Someone came across this pile of trash and felt led to take off their shoes and leave them here. Because this is holy ground.” He was mirroring what God told Moses: “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)
So we followed suit. We took off our shoes and felt the dirt between our toes. At the same time the guys from the house arrived with the Communion elements. They landed on a common cup of Mountain Dew and some bananas they sliced up.
As a kid who grew up in the Catholic church this was a massive stretch for me. 🙂
They pointed out that when Jesus used the unleavened bread and wine during The Last Supper, there wasn’t anything particularly special about those two elements. They were simply things that were on the table during the meal that evening. Jesus was using what He had available to Him. And we were doing the same thing.
Before eating the banana and drinking the Mountain Dew, there was an extended time of prayer. And their prayers brought me to tears. Actually that’s an understatement. It led me to sob.
Folks around the circle confessed how our lives are often like this field, filled with the garbage of sin. They prayed that God would redeem the garbage in our lives and transform us into works of art. They prayed that God would transform the field we were standing in, from being an eyesore to the community to being a blessing to the community… like a playground. They prayed God would transform our cities and then they shouted out many by name: Long Beach… Pomona… Chino… San Bernardino…
This trash-filled field became an altar.
“…when Jesus had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor. 11:24). We took the banana and ate. “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor. 11:25). We passed around the common cup of Mountain Dew and drank. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26).
In an outside-of-the-box, comfort-zone stretching way, that’s exactly what we did that morning. It was a holy moment. In the middle of a pile of garbage.
So when you meet together this Sunday or sometime this week as a “house church” or even if you are by yourself, ask God to show you what elements around the house to use for Communion. And may you encounter our God who conquered the grave as you do!
***Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I launched a new sermon series called “The World Says Fear. God Says Peace.” Please click HERE to be directed to those sermons***