BLOG––Encouraged by Faith

Practicing

Posted by April Bumgardner on

A few months ago my newly nine-year-old leaned close to me during a quiet moment of Sunday morning worship.

“Can I take communion?” He whispered in the way little boys do that can actually be louder than spoken words. I looked at him, faced with a decision to reflect on this request theologically, and perhaps disappoint him beyond repair, or to take a different approach. Thinking back I am grateful the Holy Spirit prompted him to ask such a question during a quiet, public moment when lengthy answers would have been socially inappropriate to me as an adult.

In our tribe, participating in communion, breaking off a portion of cracker and drinking a sip of juice to remember Christ’s death, requires something of a prerequisite. I am not sure if I was taught this explicitly growing up or incorrectly inferred it, but we see the Lord’s Supper as for those who have made a specific decision to follow Jesus and have participated in the ceremonial act of baptism by immersion.

As I looked at my son, I hope the delay was undetectable. I nodded silently and smiled.

Later, at home, I asked him about it.

“Why did you want to take communion?”

“To feel more spiritual, he said.

“What do you mean by spiritual?”

“Close to God.”

Thank God I didn’t lecture him about the fallacies of expecting to feel good, or the illusory truths of emotion. Thank God I didn’t explain to him that he didn’t understand the significance of the eucharist. Because truth be told, I thought about it. There again, I am grateful for the Holy Spirit at work. Do I understand the depth and mystery of proclaiming the body and blood of Christ? We are not required to understand perfectly in order to participate. It is not likely we will ever have perfect knowledge, nor is it necessary. His Spirit guides us through. 

Here is my prayer for my son, and for each of us throughout the globe today: that we remember Jesus both regularly and communally. We are formed through our communities, and like it or not, by our traditions. Let’s choose them wisely. There is formation in repetition.

I pray that my son’s faith is built up by participation in weekly communion, by the discipline of meeting with like-minded believers, by the liturgy of prayers and sermons and by the theologically rich lines of hymns and other songs. I pray that for all of us. I pray that we deepen our faith through action and rehearsal. I pray that in practicing to be faithful, we become faithful.

Each Sunday my son leans in next to me during communion. He is obviously pleased to be doing this together. He moves closer as he passes me the tray. By joining in communion I pray my son will learn to remember Jesus, and in remembering him, he will move closer in his relationship to God.

Church, this little boy is remembering Jesus with you. North Central family, he is watching what we do, and he wants to join in. May we be worthy of such a desire. May our weekly observance be a beautiful liturgy that forms us so that we may help form the world. There’s not a safer place for formation than in loving community. There is no grander place to be formed than at Christ’s table.

“Believing takes practice.”   - Madeline L’Engle

 

 

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