I can’t remember taking my first communion.
I can vaguely remember my parents working through some kind of faith/church devotional/workbook thing with me and my brother and then deeming us ready for communion, but I don’t remember the actual event and have no idea how old I was.
The church I grew up in does communion two different ways because they’re interdenominational and all about compromise on things like this (a church that is all about compromise? What?!). On the second Sunday of every month, they have communion passed out by the ushers. On the fourth, they go forward to take communion. I can remember when they voted to switch from just passing out communion to going up to receive it half the time, but only because I was a child and the format of church changed. As far as I know, it was essentially a non-issue for everyone. (They also baptize both infants and adults indiscriminately depending on what you want and believe in. AND THEY HAVE NOT BEEN SMOTE. But that is a post for a different day.)
My Uncle was a pastor of a Lutheran church for a while where some of the older ladies in the church had hand-embroidered beautiful kneelers for the communion altar. Apparently the women hadn’t considered that communion involves a red drink beforehand, because they pretty immediately told the church leadership that there was no way any red wine or grape juice was going anywhere near the communion kneelers. The solution? They used white wine for communion. Really. And people received the body and blood of Christ just like they would have with red wine, even if it was a little awkward to explain to visitors.
Then I went to a secretly Baptist church where communion was a once-a-month free for all: just go up and grab some whenever you’re ready, and they used bread with leaven in it and grape juice (is that really any better than using white wine?).
I served communion by intinction (at least, that’s what the pastor said it was called) at both my grandmother and grandfather’s funerals, where you dunk your wafer in the wine. Both times at least one person came from a different tradition and tried to drink from the cup I was holding. Let me tell you, you haven’t experienced awkward until you’re a woman serving communion at a funeral where a man is taking communion the wrong way. Do you tell them to stop? Pull the cup away? Look helplessly at the pastor? I went for the third option and we all survived just fine.
Now I go to a Presbyterian church here in Mexico where we have communion every week. The pastor stands in front holding a wheat tortilla and whenever you’re ready you go up and tear off a piece and grab a little cup of wine. I love having communion every week, but ya’ll, I am terrible at tearing off a piece of that tortilla. More than once I’ve come up with literal crumbs.
But can you decide that you don’t have enough when what you have is supposed to be the body of Christ? Is it wrong to go for a second piece when it feels like you barely got any the first time around?
My sweet friend Brynna and I always take our crumbs back to our seats and laugh at the tiny pieces we managed to rip off, the sacrilege and the sacrament and the giggles.
The question is not “How should we do communion?” but “Does it matter?” Does it matter how we serve this meal? Does it matter how often or with what elements or if we sit or stand or do it all together or by ourselves?
Yes… and no.
Jesus’ command at the Last Supper was to “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Does it matter that we do it? Yes. Does it matter that it’s in Jesus’ name and memory? Yes.
Does anything else matter? Hell no.
So you do your remembering with white wine and a tortilla on the beach and call it the eucharist and I’ll do it with some matzo on a kneeler and call it the Lord’s supper, but let’s both remember well.
Remember Jesus who came to bring peace and unity and wholeness and who was all about Love before anything else. Remember that so many of our unorthodoxies don’t matter at all, that while there is beauty and peace in tradition, there can be meaning and wisdom in changing it, whether we’re talking about communion or baptism or even marriage and doctrine.
Because if we can remember with just the crumbs, then crumbs are all we need.
Today I am holding tightly to the crumbs of Jesus I have been given and standing in faith that this is the body of Christ, broken for me. Perhaps you are too. His words of self-sacrifice are still spoken over us today:
Take and eat.