I am serving a two-point charge Field Ed placement this school year. It is a good experience, and I am excited about my chance to explore parish ministry. The first Sunday in October was World Communion Sunday. I generally love this Sunday. I am guaranteed to celebrate Eucharist and because of my world travels I am able to imagine what the world would be like if all the Christians that I have met were to gather together at one table. Really, on this day I imagine that we are all celebrating as Christ’s broken body, together on that day.
But this Sunday I was given the opportunity to look on this celebration with new eyes. My friend Jessica came to visit. I love my friend that I was with in Peace Corps. We struggled and had fun and learned about a new country together. But Jessica is not Christian. She knows I am, and that I take my faith seriously, and that I do not look down on her because of our diametric approaches to God and the Church. But she most definitely does not chare my faith.
Jessica came to visit me, and I had to work, and so we went to church. My little two-point, old, dirgy churches. If I had been able to pick out the kind of service that I would have introduced her to, the worship experience that would have been exciting, entertaining, youthful, and still theologically sound, I would not have picked these churches. They probably would not have been in my top five, or ten. Author’s Edit: I have since learned and developed my opinion about these churches.
And then I had to have her come visit on World Communion Sunday. This day that we celebrate the breaking of Christ’s body, and celebrate that we are a community across the world. It was made plain to me how confusing or just plain silly this could all sound to my friend. Here we are celebrating, taking pieces of bread and little shots of grape juice, and this is supposed to be seen as worship to an outsider? What must we be thinking? These words make no sense. The actions make no sense. What is the preacher doing tearing up a loaf of bread in front of these old people that do not sit together?
Truly I am thankful for the chance to look at our service through new eyes. I have been so thoroughly and deeply steeped in Eucharist theology for so very long, that the Holy Mystery has become commonplace. Also, I am glad that Jessica came on a day when I did not have control, a day when I had not planned to share the best, the ideal of worship, but the real, the no so pretty, the worship that most experience through their lives. And though I would have my churches understand that worship is to be where we join together in celebrating what God has done in and through us in the past week, the reality of church is not always that it is pretty, but that it is practiced in the routine of these people who call themselves Christian.