Communion In the Time of Corona

I miss sharing Communion. 

Up until mid-March, the church that we attend offered Communion each Sunday. The way they did it was select members are stationed at the front of the sanctuary holding baskets of bread and a cup of juice. The congregants would come forward to take a piece of bread and dip it in the juice and then return to their seats. As the bread is taken, the church member holding the bread says, “This is Christ’s body broken for you.” Then as you dip the bread the church member holding the cup says, “This is Christ’s blood shed for you.” Some people would eat their bread right there and some would wait until they returned to their seat. The whole thing was participatory, intentional, Christ-centered, and spiritual. And I looked forward to it everytime.

Now, we still take Communion but instead of walking in reverence to the front of the church, we stay put and clumsily and loudly open small baggies of bread and peel off carefully, so as not to spill all over ourselves, the tiny cup of juice. We forget the order we are supposed to go in and no one is telling us as we partake what the bread means and whose blood this is. It is disorienting and awkward and not much like the process that I love. It feels like we are eating one of those packaged and sealed ration meals that serve as food but in such a clinical and unsatisfying way. Damn you Coronavirus for taking this grand gesture and holy ordinance away from us and for reducing it to a “Lunchable” version. 

I am grateful for the chance to attend church, to sing with other believers, to hear the gospel proclaimed, and to take Communion, even this watered down version. Still, I long for a chance to join my fellow believers in the procession to the altar to receive the bread and the cup. I long for the chance to respond to the invitation to join the meal, not from my seat, but looking into the eyes of a fellow pilgrim and telling them thank you as I take and eat. I long for the chance to trail after our daughters as they join the meal and have that gratefulness that they are welcome at this table and are ready participants.

Despite my longings, this Lord’s Supper, even in its watered down version, is not about me and my preferences and good feelings. This Communion is about God’s Grace that will not be hindered by death, by disease, by upheaval, by broken leadership, or by my high capacity to screw things up. This Grace that keeps sneaking through no matter what is blocking its way. This Grace that comes to me even though I haven’t earned it and do not deserve it. It is a gift that requires only one thing from me – to receive it and enjoy it. I may not have much control over the circumstances of the times that we live in but I can still accept this Grace with open hands. 

My hands are open, Lord, for your Grace. I may not like the packaging and the presentation but I will take it. Give it to me, I need it.