Written by Laura Puiras
Today I got to take communion twice; partake in the Lord’s Supper; gather at the table; carry out the Eucharist. Call it what you will, I got to do that two times, at two different services!
And it really got me thinking.
In one service, the person leading us began by sharing a unique perspective they had recently learned from Peter Rollins. He shares about the three parts of the traditional vanishing act: the pledge, the turn and the prestige. “What if the magicians were correct? …What if Christianity actually is a magic trick, a slight of hand, something that we’re all invited to participate in, that is wondrous and ultimately transformative.” She went on to share his example of how this is expressed in the Eucharist: the pledge being the presentation of the object, in our case, the elements; the turn taking place when we consume the bread and the wine and “make the object disappear”; the prestige, the magic, happening when we become the body of Christ extended to those around us through our love lived out.
We prayed, we reflected and we partook.
In the other service, while bringing us to a place of preparing our hearts for the Lord’s Supper, the person specifically said the words, “It’s not magic”. Ironically, it was a magician who was leading us in this service.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I had never heard of someone comparing communion to magic nor had I heard someone specifically comment on how communion is not magic. Yet back-to-back, in one day… I had heard both.
And it really got me thinking.
Unfortunately for us, Jesus never took a chunk out of his earth-walking and life-changing to specifically give a shout out to his 21 century followers breaking bread/serving wafers and drinking wine/wine + water/grape juice to let us know which analogies work and which do not. Fortunately for them, what he did do, was remain entirely present in his context while remembering the faithfulness of his Father. In fact, the Gospels tell us he had really been looking forward to celebrating the Passover feast with his disciples!
Although much of what Jesus said to his disciples was lost on them in the moment, he offered them not only an invitation but instructions to remember him in his sacrifice. Of course the world has changed immeasurably since the Last Supper, so how do we know which form of remembrance is right and which one isn’t so right… especially when two churches literally say opposite things about it?
From century to century, country to country, congregation to congregation, the ways his people take time to remember his death look different. When we engage with the Last Supper narratives in the Gospels, we are led not to a rigid formula, rather, to a gathering of disciples remembering the brokenness of his body and his blood poured out for us. All of us!
Today, it was during the second time of gathering to remember Christ crucified that I finally slowed down long enough to hold the bread in my hands and turn it over before eating it in little bites; considering Jesus’ broken body. I made my mini cup of wine last me two sips rather than a quick gulp and I contemplated every drop of precious blood that was shed for me, for us, on that day.
And so I’m thinking…
Maybe it’s not as important for all of us to say the exact same things about communion as it is that we partake in it together. Perhaps part of the beauty and excitement is that all of us, in our brokenness, with our different imaginations and experiences; theologies, names and analogies for this Sacrament of Remembering, have all been invited to join Jesus at the table.
Maybe Jesus wanted his disciples and what would become the Early Church and us and all of his followers of all time, to look forward to eating together and remembering him as much as he had been looking forward to his last supper with the original twelve.
Maybe it’s about even more than the action of eating and drinking together… Maybe it’s about looking forward to every chance we get to remember the one who died for us together, the one who forged an irrevocable connection with us and his Father.
That’s what I’m thinking.