We share communion every week at SFC. After the meal we take some time to reflect on Christ present with us in all that we have shared. We have two people pass the bread and the grape juice. I always ask the children present at the table if they would like to serve. I think that being served by our children is incredibly powerful. It offers them a chance to be leaders in the setting and reminds us adults that we don’t have a monopoly on ritual or on meaning making. For over two years now one of the kiddos has always passed. Our other kids have jumped at the chance to serve and there are lots of the grownups who volunteer too as needed.
This week at dinner we only had one child at the table, the boy who has never served before. I asked him for maybe the 100th time if he wanted to help serve, and he said yes. I asked him which thing he wanted to serve and he chose the bread. I always ask the kids what they are going to say, and if they need help we work together to come up with something. It might be “the bread of life given for you” or “the body of Christ broken for you”. It might just be “the bread of heaven” or “Jesus” mumbled with no eye contact. I asked him what he was going to say and he replied “nothing”. And I said okay. I didn’t want to force him to say something when this first tentative step was already huge for him. I took the cup and he took the bread and together we made our way around the table. At the end he took a piece of bread and dipped it in the cup, giggled and said, “I dipped your Jesus bread in juice for you”. I replied, “That is good” and then held the cup for him saying, “Taste this and remember that God is good”.
This was not a traditional communion ritual. You won’t find the words he said to me in any book of liturgy. It was an incredibly holy moment. It came from months of modeling, years of being made welcome, born of an invitation steadily offered. This is what our community is, a place where we gently and slowly grow. This is a place where we create space for discipleship and formation to happen as an unfolding of life shared together.
Maybe next week he’ll say no again. Maybe he’ll say yes. Maybe in a few months or years he’ll be ready to say something when he serves communion. For now it is enough that he is around the table with us, that we as a community get to practice making space for him and for one another.