Friday, November 21, 2014

In Remembrance ...

The other night I had a dream.

I'm in a large hall.  It's some sort of melding of a convention center meeting room with the dining room at Camp Quinipet (the Methodist Church camp that did so much good for me in my younger years).  The room is set up with tables, and I'm walking around with a plastic tub picking up people's dirty dishes.  The people here are an odd mix of parishioners and convention attendees.  I know that I am here as one of the presenters at this conference/event (although upon awaking I'd be hard pressed to tell you any details about what the event was).

Someone asks, "Since you're a Unitarian Universalist, explain why Communion is so important."

I continue bussing the tables, and I say:

"As I understand it, Communion isn't some kind of magical act.  In and of itself it isn't really all that big a deal.  Communion is a commemoration, more than anything else, and that's what makes it important.

It commemorates the last meal the Rabbi Yeshua had with his friends before he was arrested in Jerusalem, convicted, and crucified.  In some tellings of the story is was the night of the Passover meal, although not all accounts seem to agree on this.  What they do agree on, though, is that Yeshua sat with his friends at this meal and talked about what they'd done together and what might very well happen next.  Given the religious and political climate of the time, Yeshua's single-minded commitment to the preaching of "The Empire of God," as opposed to the Empire of Caesar, could really only end in one way.  And so these friends ate and they talked.  (In the apocryphal book The Acts of John, there is a lovely detail that after the meal the group went outside and danced together.)  And what we're told is that at some point during the meal Yeshua -- Jesus -- asked his friends to remember him whenever they ate together.

The earliest Communion meals were apparently just that -- meals.  Not just a symbolic wafer and a sip of grape juice, but a full-fledged meal.  Among friends.  Remembering this man who had been so in love with God that it seemed as though they were the same.  (As the 2nd Letter to the Corinthians put it, Jesus was someone who was experienced as, "all God's promises find their 'yes' in him.")  So Communion is not some empty, dry and dusty ritual -- it's an opportunity for people today to gather in community to remember people then gathering in community -- and all those in between who've done so -- to center their lives on Love."

"And this," I say, by this point with tears running down my cheeks and real emotion in my voice, "is why I think Communion is important."

I put down the tub with the dirty dishes, wipe my hands on the apron I'm wearing, and go to get a loaf of rugged home-made bread and a beautiful pottery chalice of wine  I initiate a Communion service then and there.  We sing together.  We eat together.  Love is in the room.

Sometimes dreams really resist interpretation, don't they?  And, of course, sometimes they don't.

Pax tecum,


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1 comment:

arthurrashap said...

O.K. you got me. I'll go the next step and participate in the context you have created. Thanks!