Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The heritage of the table

The communion speaker spoke Sunday of the table's heritage in our lives, and its power to draw us into community if we let it.

I had to think back to the various scenes in my history with the communion table.  In my spiritual memoir, I write about the weekly Sunday morning ritual in my sleepy home town Hamlin, Tx.  The table was always covered with a sparkling white ironed cloth which the table director ceremoniously folded as the ritual began.  The servers (all men and always only men)dressed in suits and ties marched  down the aisles and lined up in front of the table with their hands crossed over their stomachs.  The grape juice and crackers were prayed over, generally with a doleful prayer emphasizing the death, blood, bones and burial of Jesus (but rarely the resurrection).  There was never a song during the ceremony--but maybe one before it started.  The whole ritual took about 10 minutes.  Each evening, the same thing was repeated for "those who were providentally hindered" from attending the morning service.

Then there were the communions at youth meetings, sometimes outside near a rough cross or around a campfire.  These were usually preceded by a homily noting that we should "search our minds to see if we were worthy to partake"--I don't think that was in the Christ-instituted one.

At Otter Creek, communion was often served on Wednesday night during vespers.  The setting was candle-lit and often served by a woman or a woman and a man, with the communicants coming forward to the table which featured wine and unleavened bread.  The screens were often filled with beautiful Renaissance art.

At Highland, we sometimes ask the whole congregation to come forward on a Sunday morning.  Songs are included before, during and after the ritual.  It is truly a time of bonding, because we get to see more of our community than the back of their heads.
On other Sundays, men, woman and children often serve the church down the aisles.  Again in other Sundays, members gather in small groups in the corners of the sanctuary to partake very personally in
scenes which look very much like a family meal.

All this to say, I have experienced many kinds of communions.  I believe they all have their place and are blessed by God. 

I am thankful that I have a Maker who not only desires that I have communion with Him, but who also desires that his children come together as a family for the remembering.

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