One of the best parts of my week is being able to serve communion at Grace and Main’s Thursday night meals.
On some very special weeks, I may get to serve communion at more than one service or meal! There’s just something about that moment when the community stands in quiet recognition of what that bread and juice mean before reaching out their hands to partake in one of the great mysteries the Church has to offer.
We come to our meals from so many different places and backgrounds, but we are united in that moment around a plate and a cup. With both our hushed reverence and our robust laughter, we are proclaiming something beautiful—namely, that God has made sinners into one body and called that body to be God’s hands and feet. You can see why this would be one of the best parts of what I get to do.
Most weeks, I have two or three willing helpers from among our younger brothers and sisters. They join me in lifting the plate and the cup before the eager audience and in quietly reciting to themselves the beginning of what I say each week, “That which I give to you is that which I also received—that on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he took bread…”
They are eager to hold the cup while I pour and always willing to lift the plate beneath my hands as I break the bread. In that moment, one of my most genuine pleasures is to watch their faces as I invite a crowd of prodigals, sinners, saints, and loved ones to “remember again our Lord’s death until he comes again”—they seem to know intuitively that something beautiful and shocking is happening around that plate and cup and that they’re an important part of it.
A Child’s Perspective
Usually, after one of our sisters or brothers has lifted their voice to give thanks for the food that lies before us, my helpers are ready to get into line to prepare their own plates. But, several weeks ago one of my helpers, an eight-year-old named Sean, didn’t put the cup back down onto the table when everybody else was remembering which water glass was their own and making sure they had a napkin.
Instead, Sean asked me timidly if he could help me serve communion that night. I gladly replied, “of course you can, little brother” and told him to say “the blood of Christ” when people dipped their bread into the cup. He nodded enthusiastically and we began to offer the body and blood of Christ to a crowd of eager hands who were hungry for so much more than spaghetti and garlic bread.
After a few dozen folks had passed by us and heard Sean proclaim “the blood of Christ,” Sean asked if he could “do the bread, now.” We traded, and before I could tell him what to say, he was off like a shot among the tables of folks waiting for us to come to them. I moved quickly to keep up with him and was never much more than two or three steps behind him, always arriving in time to hear him declare, “the body of Christ, broken for you, sir” and “the body of Christ, broken for you, ma’am.”
Faced with his youthful enthusiasm and genuine desire to serve them, even some of our folks who don’t usually partake were moved to join us in declaring our common bonds through Christ.
He was so eager to bring the plate to folks who otherwise might have not been able to partake with us because of mobility issues or their own social anxiety, that you might never have guessed that only two years previous this was the boy who had never heard the name Jesus before, but who was very interested in precisely why we were praying to him.
Over the years, Sean has developed a number of meaningful relationships with many of our leaders at Grace and Main, but something has been changing slowly in him over the last year or so. He is still the boisterous boy he has always been, but he’s also the boy who wants to make sure everybody gets to participate in this thing we’re doing. He’s still mischievous, but he’s also the one who runs to get his friends any time we’re nearby on the chance that we’ll have time to play.
He may still have so many things to learn about what it means to follow Jesus (don’t we all?), but we’re confident that he’s figuring them out—one week at a time—and it’s our tremendous pleasure to serve alongside him and run to keep up.
Joshua is a storyteller and a leader and member of Grace and Main Fellowship, an intentional Christian community devoted to hospitality, prayer, and discipleship. He is the executive director of Third Chance Ministries, which identifies, develops, and supports missionaries who gather together and nurture intentional Christian communities of hospitality and service in areas of profound need.