There was a time when you could not come to the communion table without first reconciling with your neighbor. Some traditions informed by this practice shared in communion only four times a year because, before you could come, there was work to be done.
Imagine going to someone you have not spoken to, a family member, a former friend, or perhaps a neighbor whose dog keeps you awake, and reconciling before Communion Sunday. Imagine crossing racial divides to seek a way to make reparations for past and present assumptions. Or how about turning to one whose politics often oppose yours and, instead of casting aspersions, listening to find some common ground.
The practice of reconciling before coming together in communion was replaced by a prayer of confession, an admittance of unrepaired wrongs, with the pastor giving words of assurance to the gathered people that indeed, in Christ, we are forgiven.
And, then, in traditions that emphasize Jesus died for our sins so we don’t need to focus on them anymore, communion became a time for each one to commune with Jesus in their minds and hearts.
That’s nice. And, yet, the need for reconciling people is as strong today as ever. Jesus sat at the table with the ones who would disappoint and even betray him. He never stopped loving them, he never stopped reconciling people to himself.
As you receive, whether you take communion or you are communing with God in prayer, I ask you to make a commitment to reach out to one person with whom you have struggled. Start with prayer. Pray for that person. And then reach out and connect; reconcile.
While we don’t have to do all the work before we receive, the table is an inward sign of the outward work we are called to do.
In God’s Love,