Today we reach the institution of the Lord’s Supper. This is a deeply meaningful scene for me. If you’ve been following along since the beginning of our journey, you may remember day 1 when I referred to an important moment in my life as a child. I was about seven or eight years old and my parents were recently separated or divorced (no one seems to recall the details). My dad remained intimately involved at St. John’s Episcopalian Church on South Minneapolis, where he was a deacon, but my older brother wanted nothing to do with it. Not sure of what to do with me during services, my dad simply put a robe on me and had me sit up front with him and the priest. The picture in my mind is vivid. When the Eucharist time came, my dad would have me hold the tray of wafers for congregants kneeling at the altar, hands held open, waiting for a taste of the Body of Christ. It was this picture that came to mind some 20 plus years later on a staff retreat when God confirmed my call, saying to me, “Paul, as you are you, bring me to them”. From that point on, I have been working toward getting the necessary credentials to consecrate the sacraments.
The first time I ever did consecrate Holy Communion would be September 5th, 2010 at Rosemount United Methodist Church, my current location. It was, I’m sure, for the congregation an entirely common meal, but for me it was anything but common. As the words of the Great Thanksgiving rolled off my tongue, I felt a rush of the Spirit of God flowing through me. I was nervous, invigorated, humbled and fully alive. I get the same sensation every time I speak those words two and a half years later. As United Methodists, we believe that the presence of God is in that sacrament. We believe that she is fully available to us, to work in us, bless us, form us, and call us. The elements on the table are terribly common, but with the Spirit of God blowing through them, the experience becomes anything but common.
The last time I came to the table at St. John’s Episcopalian was in the early 80s in the midst of great familial turmoil and pain… until Christmas Eve of 2012. I had finished up the marathon of Christmas Eve services in Rosemount, and on my way home found myself walking into St. John’s. I was late, so I snuck in the back. It looked, sounded and smelled exactly like it did 30 years ago. When the Christmas Eve eucharist came, I walked up, hands open, received the body and blood of Christ from the priest and I was transformed into a healed, whole, fulfilled 8-year-old boy. She had no idea what was happening when she handed me that wafer. A slow, subtle tear trickled down my cheek, as I walked backed to my pew. When we come to the table, we should approach it with great expectancy and openness, having no idea just how God might show up. How has God shown up for you at the table?