Sunday morning, we celebrated The Lord's Supper at church. For some reason, us Knoxville Baptists don't do this very often. So, when we do...it's deep...and it's moving...and it does not lend itself easily to words. (My oldest son summed up my own feelings when he said to me, "Mom, I didn't even want to leave church this morning.)
As I sat there listening to the beautiful music that reminded us of "how deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure"...and listening to the timeless words from our pastor...words that remind me why we "eat this bread and drink this cup," I realized I felt like a thirsty woman who knows she's about to be offered a tall, cool glass of water.
And...when I ate that bread...and drank that cup...remembering...well, I was humbled...I was refreshed...I was somehow renewed.
During my 14 years as a Presbyterian, we took communion a lot. Looking back, I don't think its frequency made it any less special. I was just at a place in my spiritual journey where I somehow (unexplainably) took for granted the awe...and wonder...and miracle...of what the Father's deep love for us cost Him and his Son.
Of course, my earliest memories of communion at the Kimberly Church of God are unalterably intertwined with memories of footwashing. (The first time I celebrated communion without footwashing, I thought "they" had forgotten something.) Turns out, an overwhelming majority of churches don't observe footwashing. (Instead, they use that servant-act of Jesus as an object lesson of what it looks like to have a servant's heart.)
That logic makes sense, but I've always felt a little sad for those who've never experienced an actual footwashing service. I can still remember the feeling of that warm water as I cupped my hands in that basin and poured it over Joy's feet. (She was always my footwashing buddy.) All the men and boys would be in one room and the women and girls in another, and we would sing and pray and sing some more...until every last foot was washed.
One of my most tender memories of any communion service is the Sunday my husband, Keven, helped his mom take her last communion...at least this side of heaven.
We were staying with her while Keven's dad was out of town. By this time, the effects of Lou Gehrig's Disease had begun to ravage her. She was confined to a wheelchair and had lost most of her ability to speak.
But, that Sunday morning, she had politely insisted on going to church. (She had spelled her intentions out in BIG, BOLD LETTERS on her little pad.) So, we got ready, and loaded up her and her wheelchair in our Toyota Corolla hatchback and headed for Westmore Church of God. I remember looking over at her several times during the service, hoping she could make it--even swallowing her saliva had become increasingly difficult, and she would get choked every few minutes.
After the sermon, when the usher passed the bread and the cup, she wasn't even able to hold up her hand to accept them. So, Keven took two pieces of bread and two cups--one for her and one for himself.
As the pastor announced "whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup does so in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ," Keven took that little piece of bread and placed it gently in his mom's open mouth. Then, he did the same with the cup.
In his eyes, he was just doing what needed to be done. (That's just how Keven is.) But, I knew I was watching something sacred, something servant-hearted. I knew I was watching a dearly-loved son "wash the feet" of his dying mother.
Ever since that sacred Sunday morning, I think I've understood a little more clearly what Jesus must have been feeling when he said to his dearly-loved disciples, "I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16)
When I was a little girl, many nights I would sit at the kitchen table on my daddy's knee and share his bedtime snack--leftover cornbread crumbled into a cold glass of buttermilk. He would give me a spoonful, then he would eat a spoonful.
To this day, I can't cook cornbread or drink a glass of buttermilk without thinking of that gift...that ritual..my daddy shared with me. I so hope there's cornbread and buttermilk in heaven, because I can't wait to share it with him again.
I think communion is supposed to have just that effect on us. It's supposed to whet our appetites for the day we'll enjoy eating this meal...this gift from our Jesus...with our Jesus.
"Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, 'Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.'...And the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.' And he said to me, 'These are the true words of God'." (Revelation 19:6,7,9 ESV)