It’s our first time to celebrate Communion in this online format, something I never imagined I’d be doing (I’m guessing you didn’t either!) So I thought it was important to talk for a few minutes about the significance of the Lord’s Supper and what we’re about to do together. We could have simply waited until we were back in our sanctuary. Why have Communion now?
The Lord’s Supper is at once God’s gift of grace, God’s means of grace, and God’s call to respond to that grace. I can’t think of a better time to be reminded of God’s grace than right now when so much seems out of our control.
When we gather for the Lord’s Supper we’re also united with the Church in every time and place. I can’t think of a better time to be reminded of our unity with Christians around the globe than when we are physically separated from one another and yet our whole world is weathering the same crisis all at once.
Plus, part of the beauty of the sacraments is that we employ ordinary things – in this case bread and juice – to proclaim the extraordinary love of God. The ordinary part is even more noticeable than usual today. We know there’s nothing magical about the food and drink we each have in front of us because we just pulled it out of our own kitchens. It’s the way we’ll be setting these things apart, praying for God’s Holy Spirit to bless these elements and to bless us as we share them – that’s what makes ordinary things like these sacred.
There are wonderful Bible stories we can connect with this sacrament, too, and this is why I wanted the kids to pull out their Communion book today. If you haven’t seen it before, the book is called A Place for You, it's written by Daniel Erlander, and we’ve been using it over the past year to talk together about the meaning of Communion or the Lord’s Supper. We won’t read the whole thing today but I wanted to highlight a few pages for you.
Like the very first illustration. It’s always important to remember how much Jesus loves us, and to imagine him holding us all in his arms like this in a great big hug, but it’s extra important when life feels a little strange, like it does right now. So I hope as we celebrate Communion today, you’ll imagine yourself being held in the arms of Jesus. And not just you, but everyone in our church family and everyone in the whole world.
Then if you turn to page 7, what do you see? An illustration of that wonderful Bible story where Jesus took a few loaves of bread and a few fish, donated by one young child, and used them to feed thousands of people. In a time like this when we know that some people are struggling to have enough food to eat, it’s important to remember that Jesus can take our gifts, too, and multiply them to feed many, many people.
If you jump ahead to page 12, you’ll also see Jesus sitting at a table with his friends at what we call the Last Supper. In a few minutes when we have Communion together, this is the exact story I’ll be talking about when I say Jesus took bread and broke it and took a cup and blessed it and shared it with them, asking them to remember him each time they did these things.
Then the earliest Christians, almost 2000 years ago, did as Jesus commanded them. They got together in each other’s houses to share a common meal, remembering Jesus every time they broke the bread and shared the cup of wine together. Page 18 shows us some important things they did after they shared that meal too. Things like bringing bread to those who did not have enough to eat.
And of course Christians have been celebrating this meal and doing these things ever since. On p. 23, we see examples of things we can do after we have Communion together. Things like sharing food, clothes, and money with those in need, bringing joy to sad or lonely people, being kind to people, forgiving others.
I know many of you are trying to be extra helpful to your neighbors during this difficult time. Thank you for those efforts. Thank you for giving so generously to our Deacons fund as well. And if you would like to, right after service this morning you can actually bring food down to the Magnolia United Church of Christ as part of a collection they’re doing for the Ballard Food Bank. My good friend Pastor Marci will be there and you can load a bag of groceries right into her car trunk, and she will take it to the food bank for us to share with people who are hungry. That’s another good way to respond to God’s grace and love reaching out to us through our Communion meal today.
Finally, let’s look at pages 24-25. Every time we have Communion together we also get to remember this. That we aren’t just looking back at what Jesus did a long time ago, we’re looking ahead too. Both on our better days and on our harder days we’re reminded that someday: "All will be safe; all will have food; all will have a home; all will worship God; and all will know that God loves everybody."
On a personal note, I really miss seeing you all face to face at church. But I’m so glad we can gather like this for worship. And while I can’t wait to have Communion back in our sanctuary again, I’m grateful to be able to celebrate it with you in this format today.
Because I can’t think of a better time for God’s grace to meet us, feed us, and hold us together as a community… I can’t think of a better time to respond to God’s grace by sharing bread with our neighbors... than right here and right now.