And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying,
This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Saturday evening services, annual meeting, and somehow I’ve forgotten it’s communion until I walk into the sanctuary: men and boys on one side, women and girls on the other. This is my 7-year-old daughter’s third time to take part; I tap her on the shoulder from behind and she beams, sitting with her friend.
I take a seat beside a church sister who’s alone, too. She welcomes me and whispers that we’ve never taken communion together, smiling.
We sing a capella, sweet harmonies, old minor hymns. The children request a faster, lighter song, but it’s not what I want to hear. The final song is called, and I nod and breathe deep.
Just one more time before the door
Of death would intervene
They gathered there to sup and share
Love’s feast in joy serene.
For Christ aspired, strongly desired
To meet in fellowship here
With those who talked with Him and walked
Along each dusty year.
He gave them bread and wine so red
And told them when they meet
“Remember Me when this you see,”
Then knelt and washed their feet.
When next we meet in mem’ry sweet
Let love and fellowship flow
For this might be the last for me
Before I onward go.
lyrics from “The Last Supper,” Old School Hymnal
Past, present, future, it’s all here; I remember members of my family who have gone on and envision future generations sitting in these pews, tears in their eyes, singing the same songs.
Our pastor talks about the communion bread, symbolic of Christ’s body, broken for us, and how the Jews thoroughly swept the leaven (yeast), which represented sin, from their homes before the Passover. The tray passes to me and I slowly grind the unleavened bread between my teeth.
The congregation sits still, silent, thoughtful, and I feel the Holy Spirit is among us here.
Then comes the wine, a symbol of Christ’s blood, shed for the sins of his people. I drink and feel the warmth in my throat.
These first two parts of the service involve the vertical relationship between us and God. This last part is horizontal, fellowship among us here.
I take a towel and kneel in the floor, pulling a basin of water from beneath the pew in front of me, and then I lift my sister’s feet, one at a time, washing them in the cool water as my rings softly scrape the metal pan. After each foot is wrapped in the towel and patted dry, we smile and embrace, and she kneels to wash mine.
We talk softly about my mother and how we both miss her, and of her father-in-law, an accomplished gardener who for years made the communion wine himself before he passed on. Tears gather and we smile, and I know similar hushed conversations are taking place throughout the room.
We rise and embrace our brothers and sisters: spirits refreshed, wounds healed as we do this in remembrance of Him.
It’s good to be in the house of the Lord on this night.