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Friday, September 19, 2008

Eucharist Satellite Group

A few months ago, the team who usually prepares the communion elements in advance dropped the ball. It happens. I found myself coming in early on Sunday after a late night trip to the store for fresh bread. I wasn’t happy. I don’t think I’m above cutting up bread on a Sunday but I had enough to do already. As I was talking under my breath and cutting up bread I was convicted and broke down. I began breaking each piece of bread and thinking about how each piece represented a person that Jesus died for at my church. Every piece of bread I touched was going to be consumed by someone who matters to God. It wasn’t just bread anymore. I prayed through every piece of bread I broke and God got my attention.

It’s not just something we do.

Communion (The Table, The Lord’s Table, The Eucharist, Holy Communion) has always been a special time at Westwinds. Westwinds is somewhat of a smorgasbord of traditions and backgrounds—Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Free Methodists, etc.—which always makes for interesting conversation surrounding the bread and the wine for those who have some sort of sacramental experience.

While most of our staff leans towards the “communion as a memorial” side of the continuum, there is nonetheless a great sense of awe surrounding communion. We don’t argue the sacramental presence—consubstantiation or transubstantiation, the effects of the elements, the preparation or actual manifestation of the elements, or who can and cannot participate. No matter where we land on those issues we all agree there is something magical about communion.

In this current series we are in entitled, “Cheer Up, It’s Not the End of the World” we will be sharing in communion twice—the last two weeks of the series. In conjunction with these celebrations and in preparation of them, I will be working closely with my new intern Ben to provide a backdrop for why we celebrate the table by offering a three-week invitational satellite group. In this group we will not only discuss the Eucharist, we will all help prepare it and pray regarding it.

The first week, we will gather following Fusion to talk a bit about the history and different schools of thought surrounding it—important arguments and musings from theologians, tradition, Westwinds “official” position or non-position as the case may be, etc.

The second week, we will be asking our entire congregation to bring in a loaf of bread (all different shapes and sizes) and a bottle of grape juice. The satellite group will prepare communion from the abundance of bread and then donate the remainder (which we anticipate being a truck load) to the local food shelter.

The third week, the group will gather on a Saturday to actually make loaves of bread that will be used for communion the following day. Some of the bread making will be finished on Sunday morning in the church kitchen allowing the scent of baked bread to fill the air.

We will prepare it. Pray over it. Worship in the process. And hopefully gain a greater understanding and appreciation for this magical sacramental experience where the table becomes a leveling field—where people of all different make-ups sit at the same place of honor and receive the same portion.

Stay tuned. If you would like to be part of this special one-time satellite group we would love to have you be part of the process and experience. Watch for dates in Westwinds Community Email and on Twitter.

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