The church service we attend does communion by intinction. We all file to the front of the sanctuary where we go to one of four stations attended by a couple of other church members. We tear off a piece of bread from a loaf held by one of them and then dip it into the cup held by the other. The cup has grape juice because we're Methodists for Pete's Sake! :-)
It is, for me, a more meaningful and special way of doing communion than passing out the elements through the pews. Now, all that said, probably the most meaningful times I have ever celebrated the eucharist were in small groups when we passed the elements one person to the next.
After what happened a couple of weeks ago, though, I may have a new most special communion memory.
After our team returned from Mexico, we were asked to serve communion at church. It was the first time I'd ever done it. Frankly, it won't hurt my feelings at all if it is the last time (in fact, I rather hope it is) but even that does not take away from how special I will remember this occasion as being.
Let me first address why I did not like it. I felt like I was on an assembly line. I wanted it to be meaningful and special for each recipient and I hope it was but I still felt like I was on an assembly line. People were pushing through as quickly as possible. Fact is, I usually go through line pretty quickly but, after being on the serving end, I want to go more slowly. As a server, the more time a person took, the more special it was for me, too.
But now let me explain why this communion celebration will forever stand out in my mind as being so special.
The first person to our station was a young lady I did not know. It's very possible that she's been there many times before and our paths never crossed but I sure did not recognize her.
She stopped at my co-server and took a chunk of bread. As she approached me, she put the bread in her mouth. This left her with nothing to dip in the cup. She reached to take the cup from me in order to drink from it. At first, out of surprise and some confusion, I resisted. My inclination was to loudly say "Look, that's not how we do things here!" and then wrestle her to the floor for the cup if I needed to. God smiled on me, though, and I did not do that.
Instead, I gave in to her tug on the cup and I watched as she drank slowly and longingly from it. The blood of our Savior filled her mouth and then she swallowed. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. She was seeking the resurrection life and she received it through His broken body.
For our church, what she did was not the norm. But it was beautiful and I hope she received what she was seeking, despite the confused man who fought her a bit for the cup.
The rest of the service, I was a bit off kilter because of the surprise of all of this. After the service, I was chuckling about what would have happened if I really had wrestled her to the floor for the cup, grape juice spewing everywhere.
But now I have had a few weeks to reflect on it ... and to see the beauty, and the simplicity of what she did. The apostles did not dip into a cup nor did they each have their own little plastic disposable cup. I guess I am not certain they drank from a communal cup but I like to think that they did. Christ's blood is not poured out for us in little bursts but instead it is continually there for all of us ... all of us who want to drink deep and with longing, celebrating the one who came to save us, His resurrection and the resurrection life that is ours. That is the way He wanted it to be.