Did You Hear the One About…?
40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 20 – Thursday after 3rd Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. 30 For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
1 Corinthians 11.27-30
Of all the ways, places, and occasions in which I have received communion and regardless of whether there has been bread and vintage port, wafers and grape juice, or chapattis and rice wine, the saddest of them all has been those occasions when someone has felt they could not share in the meal, or worse were denied participation in the meal.
My heart breaks that, for one reason or another – most often on account of prejudice – we feel unable to be one around the Lord’s table.
The woman of a different denomination, or faith even, who feels welcome to share fellowship but not food, as if we need to pass a ‘means test’ before being allowed to be hungry.
The man who has been away from the family of faith for so long that they no longer feel they ‘deserve’ to share our meal, as if Our Beloved did not tell us how we will find Him in the last, the least and the lost.
The nursing child having discovered love from its mother, reaching out in excitement and wonder for the sacrament denied food because they are too young to comprehend such love.
When did we think that ‘discerning the body’ of Christ meant denying food to that same Body of Christ? Too often our approach to communion has been about discrimination rather than recognition. Each time when I hold up a wafer to say ‘The Body of Christ’ I am not talking about bread (however holy) but about the people gathered around it.
Whenever anyone is denied the holy meal (or made to feel they cannot receive) we are the ones who are guilty of not ‘discerning the body’ and find ourselves to be the ones who ‘eat and drink judgement against [our]selves’. We should not be surprised, when we choose to put permission above participation, that ’many of [us] are weak and ill, and some have died.
I want to admit that I have ‘got it wrong’ many times when sharing communion.
I have received communion, at the insistence of their own students, in a Roman Catholic Seminary, .
I have given bread and wine to people who are unconfirmed and not even baptised.
I have given communion to faithful Hindu teenage girls in grief at the death of their Christian classmate.
I have even presided at a Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, at the invitation of the priest who could not read the service in Zulu.
Have I been wrong? Yes! Have I been righteous? I hope and pray so, for that has always been my desire.
Yes, it helps the Body of Christ when we receive communion in familiar places, with familiar elements, and with familiar ritual. However no place, no preference for types of bread or wine, no authorised words are worth holding on to if the price we pray is to fracture the Body of Christ that we have gathered together to celebrate.
O God, you are one,
make us one.
from the church in India
- Attend a communion service in a tradition other than your own and, if it will not cause offence, receive communion.
- Below is the notice we have at the entrance in our churches – a form of which was first made popular by Coventry Cathedral – does this describe what it means to be the Body of Christ and receive ‘communion’ in your fellowship?
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017