I have a hard time believing that it was five years ago, but five years ago I wrote a blog post titled “Holy Communion – God Am I Hungry”. And it was one of my favorite pieces of writing. That blog is no longer public, but over the last few weeks as we have been reading through the “Bread of Life” discourse in the Gospel of John at church, I keep finding myself coming back to this post. So for today, I hope you’ll join me in this newly edited version as we remember the ways God feeds us.
In February 2013, I was visiting Luther Seminary in Saint Paul Minnesota. I was wondering if maybe Luther would be my destination for graduate school. The seminary did a wonderful job of making me feel welcome. (It might be worth noting I did end up attending there.) I am so grateful to this day for the students who took me out for meals, brought me to worship, and shared their school experiences with me. And I will forever be grateful for my experiencing visiting Mercy Seat, a Lutheran mission plant in Saint Paul for worship.
During communion, I found myself giggling a bit as I watched two small children run up to the alter, so excited to get their piece of bread and juice. They danced a bit in the communion line, and rushed back to their seats smiling and filled with joy.
I joked with my student guide about a memory of mine as a young child in church. I was always so hungry by the time we walked up to the altar to receive our blessing I couldn’t wait for my meager piece of bread. Honestly at the time I didn’t understand or care about what the body of Christ symbolized, I was just hungry. And that little piece of the body would sustain me until our post-church lunch. (Trust me the symbolism is not lost on me).
After the service ended though, the two children who were bouncing in the communion line had rushed to the altar and started devouring the rest of the bread. At first it was shocking, and honestly I was a little offended. That was the body of Christ they were shoving into their mouths by the fistful! My student guide must have noticed my shocked face as she laughed and just said very matter-of-factly, “They do that every week!”
At this point I hadn’t been part of the post-communion clean up in any of my church communities. I didn’t know about the suggestions to either consume the elements or give them back to creation. (i.e. pour the wine on the dirt)
Shock and Awe
This moment as I stood in awe at the children eagerly sharing the bread and juice together, the image of them sharing the body together stayed with me. Retelling the story to my mom, she declared “They need to be taught some manners!” Similar to my original reaction, I was beginning to disagree with her. I remembered what it was like to be a small “starving” child at church. “They were hungry!” I tried to tell her.
Hungering for something different
I’m hungry now as well, but for different things. My stomach may be full but there are so many other things to hunger for. I hunger for love. I hunger for peace. I’m starving for grace. Thinking about the eager hunger of those young ones for the body of Christ, I realize that in many ways we are malnourished, but God offers us sustenance.
God feeds us through the grace we are given in the bread of life, in Jesus. We are fed and filled with God’s love, with the peace that surpasses understanding, with Christ’s grace, together we are fed.
And each week, I find myself eagerly with my hand out for that bread, feeding me and my starving heart.
What are you hungry for? How might God be feeding you today? Might God be working through you to feed others?