The thing about Church, as defined in Scripture, is that every time we gather, we are gathering as family. Truth is, sometimes we act more like distant cousins than brothers and sisters, but that’s for another day.
Today I actually got to go to church with my birth family. I’ve having a little vacation in Oregon with my son, my daughter in law and grandboys, and Sunday worship and teaching at New Hope is always on the Sunday plan.
New Hope, where my Bend family calls home, is part of the Evangelical Church, and the adults worship with praise music and Biblical teaching while the children go to their own age classes.
I always am very thoughtful about what Church really is whenever I go to New Hope and never leave without bringing something home to St. Mary’s. I am particularly thoughtful because I may retire to Bend, and I am full of prayer about what my ministry would look like if I do. Very few folks attend church here, and Bend has endless opportunities. I imagine what Church would look like in this place for me, and I pray about the possibility of partnering with Christ in creating some sort of missional community.
But back to today. It’s a joy to sit beside birth family in church. Today we had the rare gift of communion.
At the end of worship, ushers passed around metal plates of tiny pillows of cracker bread and trays filled with minuscule plastic cups of grape juice. We sang Jesus Paid it All accompanied by a band as communion was distributed. I was back in time to occasions of the Lord’s Supper in my own growing up days in the Baptist Church.
There was no instruction about who could take the meal or not. The only direction was to wait until everyone was served to eat. Standing in our rows of chairs, the ushers held the plates towards each of us one by one with a smile. It was Christ’s table and all were welcome.
When all were served, the pastor read from Scripture:
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
And we ate our crisp tiny pillow of bread.
And then he read:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
And then we drank our thimble full of juice.
And then he read still more:
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
( I Corinthians 11. 23–26).
I was fed and it was holy.