Practicing Parents

Communion: I Serve You in the Love of Christ

~by Jill Clingan

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I felt a tap on my shoulder, startling me from my reverie. It was a spring Sunday morning. My husband was upstairs helping with the kids. I was sitting alone in my pew. The service was winding down, and it was time for communion. As I was sitting in that pew, with my head bowed, I probably looked the part of a pensive, meditative worshipper. But I was not praying. I was staring down at the spiral bound notebook in my lap. The tap on my shoulder was so startling because I was afraid I was going to get caught, and I immediately sought to conceal the small book. I had not been jotting down sermon notes or composing a pre-communion prayer. Instead, I had been scribbling out my to-do list, a list that spanned laundry and homeschool prep and long-overdue emails and housecleaning. As I stared down at my completed list, I felt overwhelmed and a wee bit panicky that I was sitting quietly in church rather than ticking something off of that list.

The tap on my shoulder had distracted me out of a meditation more tellurian than sacred.

When I glanced up, my guilty eyes looked into those of Geo, one of our pastors. She was not tapping me on the shoulder to reprimand me, however. Instead, she was asking me to help with communion. I had never helped with communion before, but of course I nodded my head yes, stuffed the notebook into my purse, and followed her up the aisle.

We had been attending our church for two years, and I had walked up to take communion nearly every Sunday. But as I was stood there a bit nervously next to Geo, I could not remember for the life of me what I was supposed to say as each worshipper dipped the bread into the cup.

I leaned over and whispered, “Um, am I supposed to say something?” She looked at me (and I imagined that her look was incredulous, but I am pretty sure that was just my imagination), and she whispered back, “I serve you in the love of Christ.”

Got it. I can do that, I thought.

The music began, and I saw and heard, from this front-row vantage point, the creak of pews, the whispered “excuse me’s,” and the silently exchanged smiles of my community as they swept up the aisles to receive communion and then as they walked back to their seats, all of them quietly engaged in a holy ritual that I had never had the opportunity to observe in this way.

“I serve you in the love of Christ,” I said quietly to each worshipper as they plunged their bread into the cup.

“I serve you in the love of Christ,” I said as I looked into the eyes of my dear friends.

“I serve you in the love of Christ,” I said to people with whom I had never exchanged more than a friendly nod or a shy “hello” at the coffee table.

“I serve you in the love of Christ,” I whispered as I squatted lower to meet the outstretched hand of a child.

“I serve you in the love of Christ.”

I walked back to my pew, and my heart was full of worship and wonder.

The ritual was so simple.

And the words, while rooted in a sacred tradition, were not magic.

But there was something mystical about it. Something holy. Something that softened my duty-driven heart and shifted its perspective.

I still got out my to-do list when I got home. But something had changed within me. I felt a little silly, but it seemed that if serving my church family in a rite as simple as communion could feel holy, then what about the simple rites I perform for my own family?

As I wash and fold laundry…”I serve you in the love of Christ.”

As I pick up discarded toys and stray shoes and abandoned artwork…“I serve you in the love of Christ.”

As I chop vegetables…“I serve you in the love of Christ.”

As I wrap my son in a hug…“I serve you in the love of Christ.”

As I stop what I am doing to look into my daughter’s eyes to listen to her story…“I serve you in the love of Christ.”

As I abandon my to-do list to sit on the porch with my husband and exchange souls…“I serve you in the love of Christ.”

And the next week communion was that much sweeter and more meaningful to me as I walked forward, took the bread, dipped it into the cup, and heard the host softly say to me, “I serve you in the love of Christ.”

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2 thoughts on “Communion: I Serve You in the Love of Christ

  1. Absolutely beautiful. And perfectly ordained for me to read in this juncture of my life. As I sit in Barnes and Noble, my prism focused eyes are filled to the brink and my throat is hardened, trying to hold back the gulp. God has whispered in my ear through your words. Your holy reminder.

    I smiled, having been asked to serve communion (Eric called me up at the last minute.) I’ve taken communion a million times in my life, but my mind reeled trying to find the phrase that was said with each passing. I know your panic! I just wasn’t smart enough to ask. Instead I just smiled sweetly, hoping each believer would find grace to offer me in my ignorance.

    This post might help me to remember. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. I am a ‘stay at home mom’ with no more kids at home as they are grown and gone. I’m living in a new city and desperately missing my home in KC. All I do is work around the house. I feel the mission and purpose of it in my good moments. But they seem so menial compared to ‘important’ jobs I’ve held outside the home in the past. I have been a bit lost in my direction.

    But you wrote. Eric shared it on Facebook. And God elbowed me in Barnes and Noble.

    What a beautiful circle. What a gracious God.

    For today, you have served me, three hours away, in the love of Christ.

  2. Pingback: Communion: I Serve You in the Love of Christ | Faith Bytes: Elsie Spins a Blog

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