For the first few months that I attended services at a local UCC church, I refrained from participation in the act of communion, which took place once a month (weekly during Advent). Each time that communion was initiated the pastor proclaimed that it was open to everyone, without exception; it didn't matter what you believed or what you had done. I loved that inclusive message, but I still couldn't bring myself to participate. The Quaker in me resisted the idea of participation in such a sacrament.

But during a recent lunch meeting with the pastor, I told her what my feelings were on communion; I said that, coming from the Quaker tradition as I did, I didn't really see the point of it. In response, she just laughed. She was clearly not offended. Somehow, that interchange took the pressure off. It no longer felt like participating in communion would be a dishonest act of affirming something that I didn't want to affirm. The pastor knew what I believed on the subject. The inclusive message of open communion was reinforced by my having informed the pastor about my beliefs. It left me free to go ahead and participate in something that was offered to all attenders, regardless of who they were. So I went ahead and partook of the bread and the wine.

For me, participating in communion has the same sort of value as, for example, participating in a candle-lighting ceremony. It is a participatory act within community worship. It has no special sacramental meaning to me. The fact that the churches I attend do give it sacramental value is just one example of the many ways that I as an attender live on the fringes of Christianity; I often find myself attributing different meaning to certain elements of worship than perhaps the pastor or others in the pews do. That is something I have learned to accept. But since I do like the idea of participatory worship--lighting candles or partaking of the bread and wine--then as long as it is clear that I am not affirming something that I cannot honestly affirm, it somehow seems okay.


Eileen said...

Mystical - I agree with your thoughts here as well. If you love your church community, and feel compelled to partake in this piece of worship with them, as a sharing experience, I'd question it not, and move ahead.

God calls to us in our own way.

And Christ was sharing a community meal at the last supper. The sacrament commemorates this sharing - of himself, of his ministry, of his gifts to the world.

It's not my place to question why anyone goes to communion. That is between you and God, and God knows your heart. ;-)