As I am finishing out my final semester of seminary, I am struck by what seems most important to me. What are the essentials of life? My calling? And it comes down to the sacraments.
As a Lutheran I see only two – Baptism and Holy Communion. Baptism is are adoption into God’s family. It can happen at any time, but when it does there is no going back. Baptism is not an “I was” but an “I am”. It is continuous, always active and present.
The other is Holy Communion – the Eucharist – the Good Thanksgiving – εὐχαριστία – where we are called to eat with our fellow brothers and sisters. And it is this part of the sacraments which has been on my mind.
Today I was catching up on reading my daily devotions from Henri Nouwen. Some days I am better about setting time aside and really thinking about what I am reading and others I skim it and move forward with whatever I need to complete whether work, school work, or something with my family. And so today I went back and reread one from Feb 15th. I am copying the words here, because they are worth rereading, coming back to, and sharing with my friends and family.
“The Meal That Makes Us Family and Friends
We all need to eat and drink to stay alive. But having a meal is more than eating and drinking. It is celebrating the gifts of life we share. A meal together is one of the most intimate and sacred human events. Around the table we become vulnerable, filling one another’s plates and cups and encouraging one another to eat and drink. Much more happens at a meal than satisfying hunger and quenching thirst. Around the table we become family, friends, community, yes, a body. That is why it is so important to “set” the table. Flowers, candles, colorful napkins all help us to say to one another, “This is a very special time for us, let’s enjoy it!”
– Henri J. M. Nouwen”
How often do we see communion in this way. A time to gather with our friends and family to share in the meal, the conversation, the celebration, and the sacred moments of people’s lives? Just as when we come together for a birthday, a holiday, or even having friends over, we come to a table that has been set with care. This is a special time and a time worthy of repeating not just once a year, or once a month, or even once a week, but daily as we are gathered back into community, having not only our hunger and thirst quenched, but are filled with the Holy Spirit and renewed in our relationships that make us a complete family.
So as I contemplate the meaning of this sacrament, I am reminded of all that I am thankful for. My family who has supported me through my seminary journey, my friends who have prayed for me and allowed me to pray for them, as well as the wonderful creation God has given to us to tend and care for even if it means 68 degrees one day and snowing the next. More on that in my next post.