Yesterday was communion day.
Of course, at The Table it’s always communion day (and bacon. and mimosas. but I digress). But yesterday we arrived at last at the Last Supper story in our long journey through the Gospel of Mark.
Communion is a magnificent reminder of all the things we should take for granted but don’t.
We continue to cultivate visions of strong faith and piety that center entirely around me and God. We continue, sometimes consciously sometimes not, to think that the most important things we can say about ourselves have to do with who we are when nobody’s looking.
But communion tells us otherwise.
Communion tells us that who we are most truly is who we are when we are together. Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, because we all partake of the one bread.
Yesterday I handed the kids in our house church one piece of a small puzzle. Who, then, has the puzzle?
Too often we act as though we ourselves have the life of Christ sufficiently in us. But it’s not sufficient to have that life in us–we, together, are the body of Christ. We are not who we truly are until all the parts, all the pieces, are drawn together.
As a member of our group pointed out yesterday, our history as the church has too often been one of telling people that they do not belong to us, to the body–but far too frequently this has been telling the flour that it’s not to be part of the bread, because we’re the yeast people.
We who are many are one body. And we are most truly ourselves when we are functioning on the level of the community, not when we stand as individuals–even as individuals before the face of God.
Of course, the kind of body we are is wrapped up in the communion moment, too. And there as well we are prone to lose our bearings and to forget what we should be able to assume.
The body that we are is the self-given, and self-giving body of Christ. The body that we partake of, that we participate in, is the body “given for you.”
So when we eat, we not only declare our oneness with each other, but also our oneness with the crucified Christ.
This means, of course, that the action that should typify the community is the activity of self-giving for the benefit of the other–to give our collective self so that others might live.
In our church, we take hold of the bread, break off a piece and hand it to our neighbor saying, “The body of Christ, given for you.” When we hand the bread, we hand the broken body, which is to say handing Christ–which is the same as handing ourselves as members of the church.
To give someone else the body of Christ is to give them ourselves and to pledge ourselves to be agents of love, giving ourselves so that they might find life afresh.
We are a communion people. This means that we are a people who are defined by union and communion both with the crucified Christ and with one another. If ours is a storied faith, then this is its illustrations and also the implement by which we are reinscribed into the narrative week after week.