The Bread and the Wine

I grew up in a small farm town where everyone I knew was Catholic. At least it seemed that way. Whenever my friends talked about catechism class, they spoke in code words I couldn’t understand. And I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what the word catechism meant.

We Protestants shared a different vernacular – with expressions like filled-with-the-ghost and slain-in-the-spirit and hallelujah. Did I mention we were Pentecostals?

I remember well the fanfare that accompanied my friends’ first communions. I was filled with envy more than the ghost as my friends walked down their sanctuary’s opulent aisle in their gleaming white dresses. There was something about the solemnity of the moment that felt right, and I wished I could be a part of it.

At my little church, we did communion differently. I’m not just talking about the protestant-approved-grape-juice either. Without pomp and ceremony, ushers in neatly pressed Wranglers passed along simple platters with bits of broken bread. In our own humble way, the serving of communion resembled the same veneration.

My favorite part of Sunday morning church was communion. As the youngest in my family, though, I experienced a twinge of jealousy every time my older brothers and parents participated in communion without me. Mom wanted me to wait until I was old enough to understand what it all really meant. Today, I appreciate this. But at the time, I ached with longing – a longing I couldn’t quite understand – a longing to belong and participate in the family of God.

In his book, “Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me,” author Ian Cron describes his first holy communion. He experienced a tethering. It was as if God had tied a rope around his waist, so no matter how far he wandered in later years, he would be able to find his way home (45). Cron is right:

“Home is not just a place; it’s a knowing in the soul, a vague premonition of a far-off country that we know exists buy haven’t seen yet.” (3)

When I was finally allowed to partake in communion, I took it very seriously. Although I never sat in a class or memorized certain passages, my mom asked me some questions. I must have answered them correctly because that Sunday morning I got to join in. And when I did, I discovered something. For me, communion wasn’t about participating with the others after all; it was a private moment with Jesus. Just Him and me, while the rest of the world faded into the background.

Communion has remained so ever since. No matter how harried a Sunday morning may become, trying to get three kids dressed and out the door on time, I cannot hold the emblems in my palm without thinking of His scarred hands. All of the cares of this world dissipate for a moment. It’s as if the clock stands still. A glimpse into timeless eternity is unsheathed.

I cannot taste the bread without asking for forgiveness over the week’s transgressions. I cannot drink the cup without asking for His healing in my soul.

The Bread and the Wine.

“Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

I remember. Every time. What He has done. On the cross. In my life.

There is no greater love than this. To lay down our lives for another (John 15:13). If we are to practice His love, we must remember. We must give thanks. We must give our lives away.

What do you remember about your first communion?

11 thoughts on “The Bread and the Wine

  1. Marjo, you're welcome!

    Deidra, I couldn't agree more. Communion is so personal, and so beautiful!

    Rhonda, wow! I'm so glad the fear is gone!

    Marsha, our church only serves communion once a month too. I wish it was weekly!

    Multi, I completely agree. It is a great time of “reflection on God's gracious, merciful gift to us.” Beautifully said!

    Shanda, I love that your church celebrates communion every Sunday. That's awesome!

  2. In our church we celebrate communion every Sunday and I love that we can contemplate on the greatest love of all, every week, in quietness and reflection.

  3. I love Cron's description: “It was as if God had tied a rope around his waist, so no matter how far he wandered in later years, he would be able to find his way home”. “Home is not just a place; it’s a knowing in the soul, a vague premonition of a far-off country that we know exists buy haven’t seen yet.”

    Ahhh, yes “the scent of a flower not yet found” …the sweet aroma and the feeling of home sweet home! A far off land – we will be overwhelmed with delight and joy when we arrive!

    Our church only had communion the first Sunday of each month and it was a great time of reflection on God's gracious, merciful gift to us and a time of gratitude. A serious expression of our commitment to Christ as well.

  4. Sadly, I do not recall my first communion, but I would have been 12 years old, as that is the age at which I asked Jesus into my heart.

    Our rural church only served communion once each month, but I always felt it was a time of “holy communion” in more ways than one.

    Wonderful post, thoughtful, insightful, and impactful. Blessings to you.

  5. Ells: there's no reason to be intimidated. 🙂 I wasn't much of an English student in high school myself. (Long story.) But I turned things around in college. (Another long story.) Thanks for your kind words.

    Seeking: Thank you.

    Jacque: Yes, Eucharisteo, indeed!

  6. “We must remember…we must give thanks…” Ah and this the Eucharisteo at the taking of the Eucharist, and as Ann says…Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle, especially the one of giving ourselves away in love to another. Just beautiful!

  7. Wow an English major….I will try not to be intimidated:)…I almost did not make it out of freshman English:)

    Your words and heart are beautiful…. we must give thanks….we must give our lives away.

    Blessings~

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