Holy Week Communion 2020: cheesy crackers and Dr. Pepper?
Sacrilegious! Blasphemous! Audacious! To THINK that one could have Holy Communion—I mean HOLY Communion—without a priest or pastor physically present for the hands-on of it all, i.e., the blessing of the elements? And THIS high church blessing had better be done IN church. Anything else isn’t communion. After all, it’s always done with cubes of white bread or out of the box communion wafers.
And it’s always grape juice or wine.
It cannot be anything else. The table has to be covered in white linen historically preserved by the church lady who loves that kinda thing, the Martha of it all. And there’s the standard shot glass plastic cups even though some historic churches still have the glass ones from an era long past in a distant, dark corner because really, to wash all those cups when there’s ham at home to prepare! Outlandish!
But the truth of this Easter celebration is sinking in for all of us, and the truth is if there’s going to be communion on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter Sunday, then that communion will be done remotely—if at all.
Ouch. This is gonna hurt.
Or is it?
We who love and are profoundly nourished from Holy Communion will do well to grieve the loss this year of a ritual that doesn’t just sustain a spiritual life; it nourishes it.
As we consider (and reconsider) God loving us through this restorative, holy time of Christian faith affirmation, we have to think that God has this Easter, too.
And God does. The truth of the Last Supper is the surprise of Jesus’ use of the bread and the wine which the disciples had already experienced during the meal. Before Jesus spoke of his fast-approaching death and resurrection, bread had already been broken. Wine had been poured and consumed. It wasn’t like an over-the-top happy birthday cake came rolling in on a cart after the dinner dishes had been cleared and Jesus used fondant and candles to explain who he was and what he would do. No, God set the Last Supper in a very common way. The disciples couldn’t have predicted bread, wine, body and blood.
And that may have been the point—unpredictability, which is what most of us have lost since we’ve had communion so many times.
This year, all of us can enter a homespun communion service. We can experience the Spirit of God moving through and among us, and the anxiousness, uncertainty and expectancy that the disciples experienced in the intimacy of that upper room can be ours, too.
And that makes this meal real.
Enter into the Holy Meal in a new way by allowing God’s grace to surprise you. Allow God’s presence to guide you. Allow God’s Spirit to teach you and those at the table with you.
Maybe some of us will have cheesy crackers and Dr. Pepper at the meal not because we’re heretics, but because that’s how this Holy Week has unfolded with limited access to grocery stores.
Some may disagree with me on this, but I suggest it’s not the elements that matter. It’s what they represent.
Think of your around the kitchen or dining table holy meal this way: we do not have limited access to God through Jesus as this meal itself. Just as He did in the Upper Room, our ever-present Jesus is saying to us around the intimacies of our tables that our God is loving and close, guiding and present.
Let’s not just listen to this. Let’s share.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on April 8, 2020.