I had to focus on the Words of Institution as I looked out at their eager faces. Six of our young people were about to receive their First Communion. One pressed his palms against the pew ahead and hoisted himself high off the ground to see better. Others looked around for each other with big smiles or made a serious effort to follow along in the bulletin. For a moment, they were all looking at the bread and wine, hungry and thirsty. What a privilege to serve this meal.
During our First Communion class, I pulled out a beautiful quilt made by loving members of my internship church. Each patch tells a different story through soft fabric patterns – the garden, the grains of wheat, Jacob’s ladder, the Star of David – and when it covers me, I am draped in the story that saves.
We talked about how worship is much like my quilt. Everything we do helps to tell the story – our stained glass windows, our hymns, the scripture read, prayers spoken and peace shared. “If there were a center patch in my quilt, it would be Holy Communion. Some people think the sermon is the most important part of the service, but it’s not.” And then we talked about the bread and wine. I gave them a tour of the sacristy and we walked through the morning routine of filling wine cups and placing the elements in the rear of the nave. “So we can see it when we walk in?” That’s true.
One brilliant girl asked why we never use banana bread. A beloved boy made the connection that we can’t see Jesus when he comes with the meal, but we can taste him. That’s true. They all double checked that the grape juice is white, not purple, and were swept up in the mystery of Jesus telling us to do this even two thousand years later.
And so, on this Maundy Thursday at dusk, I watched holy and innocent faith hold out its hands. Some smiled wildly and others contained their glee with a mask of reverence. But after the service, they all danced with joy on the courtyard lawn. We tore the rest of the bread into little pieces and, with the same glad respect they had at the altar, returned the extra bread to creation and fed the birds. “The best part is, we get to take communion again this Sunday…and every Sunday!” That’s true.