The Mercy and Mystery of CommunionBlog / Produced by The High Calling
"I believe in the power and mystery of the Eucharist," writes author/photographer Kris Camealy for our Flesh and Blood theme. "Sunday mornings gathered around the communal table offer a reminder of my desperate need for grace."
I always look forward to Communion Sundays. Our church celebrates the Lord's Supper bi-weekly. Though I've enjoyed the feast a number of ways, I'm partial to receiving it on my knees.
While I can't argue theologically either for or against transubstantiation, I believe in the power and mystery of the Eucharist. I believe in the reality of my own experiences and the weight I have felt soul-deep, as I have bent and kneeled at the rail with my hands outstretched and open, like the beggar that I am.
Coming to the Table
Each week, I carry into the sanctuary a whole host of baggage from the six days prior. Sunday morning finds me eager to approach the table, though I’m conscience of my delinquency. In his book A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester says, "The Lord's Supper should be a meal we 'earnestly desire' to eat. We should approach it with anticipation. With longing. With excitement. With joy."
Jesus says, "Come as you are.” Sometimes I think I need a basin near the altar to wash my hands first, like Lady Macbeth rubbing furiously to erase the stains of her sin. But he calls us to come stained, so he can wash us. I can do nothing else. I come filthy and limping but eager.
Sunday mornings gathered around the communal table offer a reminder of my desperate need for grace. Rather than a basin, it's a chalice that I find at the altar. With grimy hands, I take it and drink.
Receiving the Gift
After the prayers of the church, we begin to file forward in hushed lines, ready to receive. I bring my wounded heart, my empty hands, to the rail—repentant, open, hungry for more of Christ.
All week, I’ve wrestled cravings and desires. I’m needy, weary from making carnal decisions that bear no weight on eternity. I need the reminder that Jesus alone satisfies. This is why I need to come to the table just as I am.
Jesus is the host and the Host at the table. He invites us to the feast of wafers and wine, flesh and blood for renewal and the reaffirmation of the promise of mercy and forgiveness.
Communion challenges us to remember the cost of the cross, and as a result, it changes us. At the utterance of the table blessing, Christ's presence is palpable to me. When I close my eyes, I feel him kneeling beside me.
It takes some imagination, but the more I picture his real presence, the easier it is to see him, not as crucified but as the resurrected king of creation. The baggage I carried with me to the table, I now place in his hands.
The ache of empty longing disappears at the altar. It's not magic; it’s the result of feasting on that which is good and satisfying. The covering of Christ's blood, received through communion, realigns my skewed perspective.
The host satisfies a hunger that nothing else can.
In those moments bent at the rail, I am reminded of God's covenant of forgiveness, acceptance, and mercy. His promises are renewed in the bread and the wine, and I come away satisfied with the mystery. I don't need to know how it happens, only to remember that it does.
Imbibing the flesh and blood of my savior changes me weekly. In receiving communion, I find communion with him.