Monday, February 02, 2009

Self Examination

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Mark 14:22-24

I’ve been processing this since yesterday, and wondering what I would end up writing. First, I should say that I knew that I would face challenges as I accepted this new way of eating. Some challenges are easily met and life goes on, while others nag at me and wait for alternatives. Yesterday’s church service provided me with a challenge that has been gnawing at me ever since, and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what to do about it.

Yesterday was the first church service of the month, and we celebrated communion together. Or rather, I celebrated parts of communion. Because of the gluten in the bread I had to pass the loaf along. While I know in my heart that God understood my reasons, it nearly brought me to tears having to do it.

Having grown up in the Mennonite church, and being baptized as a young adult, I did not participate in communion all of my life. In addition to that, Whitestone (depending on which pastors we had) did not celebrate communion very often. I remember celebrating it maybe once or twice per year. The act of communion grew to be very special to me, and holds much significance. While baptism only happens once in a lifetime, communion is meant to be observed many times throughout the life of a Christian.

My father and I have had conversations in the past about churches that take communion weekly, and how the celebration that is communion becomes common place to the congregation. While I can understand how that might happen, I often wished that Whitestone had had it more often. One of the things I love most about attending the Presbyterian Church in Marion is that they have communion at least once per month.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood; you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:53-54

While I know that I am no less of a Christian because I’m unable to partake of the bread during communion, I do feel that I’m missing out on something. Communion is a time for us to be together as a community…congregation…body… Am I still a part of that group? Surely I am, but the feeling is still there gnawing at me. Observation of communion is about remembering Christ, his sacrifice for us, and self-examination. I’m still able to remember, to be thankful, but there is something about the physical elements that makes this more difficult to me. As a teacher, I’ve learned about how one must teach to a variety of learners, taking into consideration their specific learning styles. Perhaps the kinesthetic portion of communion is how I’m able to truly reflect, learn and change?

I’m unsure whether I have any more answers now, than when I began this post. I know that the process of writing down my feelings and thoughts is cathartic for me. It could be that I will learn to accept my partial participation in communion, or that this is something I will always struggle with. I do know that avoiding the church on days of communion is NOT the approach I should choose, but I have to admit that today that looks really tempting.