An Invitation to the Table
Two Sundays ago, I took Communion with my almost-six-year-old son. It was his first experience with the bread and the cup. And it’s something I’ll never forget. Jackson fidgeted as we listened to a hymn and waited to receive the elements. He cuddled up next to me, held onto my arm, and looked up at me with big, blue eyes. “Is it our turn yet?” he whispered. “Almost,” I replied. When it was our turn, Jackson and I followed our friends up the aisle. As we reached the staff members, he looked at me to see what to do. I smiled at him and took the bread, then dipped it in the cup. Of course, Jackson did exactly what I did—a humbling reminder of the weight of my responsibility as a parent. As we made our way back to our pew, he took my hand and squeezed it. Hot, happy tears filled my eyes. This congregation takes Communion every Sunday—and I'm immensely grateful for it. In contrast, I remembered how Communion used to feel in the church I grew up in. It was something we did only once a quarter. It seemed as flat and tasteless as the pasty-white wafers we chased with mini plastic shot glasses of grape juice. Then, a few years ago, smack-dab in the middle of a crisis of faith, I went on a “Walk to Emmaus” retreat. When we took the elements, it was reverent, holy, and mystical. We didn’t rush through it, and it wasn’t an afterthought or something we did by rote. Rather, it was both an invitation and a response; one I finally, fully understood. Obeying the Word, we came together to remember Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. And as we invited Him to join us, He invited us to share in His suffering…and His joy. I had suffered a lot over several years prior to that retreat…with an early miscarriage, Postpartum Depression, the loss of friends and loved ones, and job uncertainties. Extended family members had health issues, as did I. My kids were young, and I felt inadequate. My faith was shaky, my marriage was lonely, and my church-going was spotty. But during the weekend, which was saturated in Scripture, prayer, and the Eucharist, God reminded me that Jesus hadn’t suffered so I could be miserable. He had suffered so I could know the joy of overcoming. Each time I took the bread and the cup, the realization that Jesus died for even me—instead of judging me in anger, which I deserved--purged the anger and judgment from me. I felt pure and clean, as if all the tears I cried over the weekend had washed not just my face, but also my insides. I guess I’m a slow learner; after all, it took me about three decades of churchgoing to really understand Communion! Still, I’m glad I grew up the way I did. I don’t take it for granted now. It’s sacred to me—and that might not be the case if I had grown up in another denomination. Four years later, here I was—inviting my son to the Lord’s Table with me. Each week, I take my place in line beside my family. Prayerfully, I step forward and do exactly what I’m called to do every moment of every day as a mom: receive God’s gift of grace with a humble, awestruck heart—and invite my sons to follow. As they grow, they’ll know their own share of suffering. But I pray they’ll also know the joy of the resurrected Christ, the hope of eternity with Him, and the truth of His mercy. By the way, Jackson’s first Communion took place a few months after I’d had the immense privilege of praying with him to accept Christ. Before we entered the church, I had reminded him that we should pause for a moment before Communion to thank God for sending Jesus to die on the cross for us. “But Mom, we should do that every day,” Jackson said. Communion, indeed. Post written by Dena Dyer of Mother Inferior. Photo by Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience. Used with permission.