A little bit unsure of what I needed to do in the next few minutes, I quickly joined a group of men my age standing in line beside the pews. I did my best to observe the group ahead of us to figure out exactly what was happening but as they faced toward the stage and kneeled it was hard for me to really see what was going on. In the next moment I realized it was our turn I walked to the front of the stage and kneeled on the cushions and put my hands out to receive the bread as I had seen the group do before me. So far it didn’t seem too different then communion back home, but when the priest turned around with the a spoon in the communion glass I realized something was a little out of my comfort zone. The next thing I knew I saw the first young man in our group simply lean back his head and leave his mouth wide open. A bit of an odd posture I thought until I saw the priest cast a spoonful of the juice into his mouth with a sudden and almost mechanical motion. When my turn came I simply followed the lead of the others before me and felt the extremely sweet juice splash into the back of my mouth and a little clink of the spoon as it tapped my teeth. Then it was over, no harm done I had just taken part in an Indian Communion.
Communion. For those of us that are raised in the church it is something that we are so used to we often don’t give it much thought when we participate in it at our church. Each of our churches have a different way of going about it, more often then not it is a simple plastic glass perhaps half the size of a shot glass with grape juice in it and a cracker that looks better suited as a bait for a mouse trap then communion based on it’s size. Other less common ways of doing communion may use actual loaves of bread to dip in the juice or if their feeling a bit more adventurous may even offer a wine alternative.
Of course the Catholics have their tradition of sharing one in the same cup, which more often than not is full of wine and a larger thin wafer that seems to melt in your mouth and tastes similar to packaging peanuts. Honestly whatever way your church has for doing it I don’t think the style really has as much as impact as the act itself or the knowledge of why we do it. Each church has it’s own style but what has struck me recently is one thing that all of these styles seem to have in common that frankly doesn’t make much sense to me.
Be it a Indian church, a Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian or anything else all of these churches at one point will say something to the effect of “this communion is for believers only and so if you are not a believer please let the cup and bread pass you”
Until recently this made sense to me. But now there are two things that make me think this an odd tradition. For one this is arguably one of the most important elements to a church service, yet for some reason we decide to exclude non-believers from this part. No doubt this must create some discomfort to those who may already feel a little out of place and unaccented in the church. Furthermore if we ask non-believers not to participate in this why don’t we exclude them from other elements, say prayer and worship? Is there really a big enough difference between those elements of our service and communion?
My other thought was one that kinda blew my mind in the last few months. If we are taking our example of what communion should look like from Christ and the last supper, then let’s think of those who attended this first communion. If you give it some thought there was one man attending that first communion, that I think had he attended one of our church services would have been told to not participate. I’ll give you a moment to think of him yourself…
Did you think of it?
Yep that’s right, Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus. If there was one man that should have been excluded there should be no doubt that Judas is the guy, yet scripture makes it pretty clear that he was there and he ate and drank just like everyone else.
Just some food for thought.