Thursday, June 4, 2009

Communing Our Parents

On Pentecost Sunday, my church celebrates confirmation. I'll say more about that tomorrow when I have more time. Our confirmands did all the communion assisting, which meant that some of them communed their parents.

Watching this process made me wonder about the emotional quality of the experience for both the confirmands and the parents. I wonder how it feels to receive communion from your child. I assume it must feel odd on some level--another sign that the child is growing up.

I know how it feels from the child side, although I was a grown child when I communed my parents. At the churches of my childhood, teenagers wouldn't have been allowed to be communion assistants, and the churches of my teenage years had professional staffs (pastors, assistant pastors, interns) to serve in the capacity.

At our recent retreat, I poured the wine for our Sending Service at the Braided Labyrinth. As my parents approached, I thought, oh, my, I've never given my parents Communion before! I found it deeply moving.

In fact, I found communing the whole group to be one of the most moving experiences of my Communion Assistant life. For one thing, I knew those people in a deeper way than I know most people; I've been gathering with them for 7 years. Another reason why it was moving was that we looked each other in the eyes. As I commune people at church, it's rare that anyone meets my eyes. But at the Sending Service, almost every single person looked at me directly. The whole process felt very holy and intense. I was very close to tears the whole time. Good tears.

The confirmands on Sunday might have been too worried about making mistakes to fully register their emotions. Or perhaps it takes years of communing before one feels the full impact of the Eucharist. Or maybe I'm just weird. I'll write a later post about the term I coined at Synod Assembly, when I told someone I'm a Eucharist Geek.


Mrs. M said...

I'm a Eucharist geek, too. I love this post-- thanks for sharing it.

When I realized the Episc. church wasn't quite the right place for me, I tried the other side of the spectrum and visited UCCs and Presbyterian congregations. I really, really missed the centrality of communion. Nothing reminds me better that we're all (even when we're hard to love) part of the body of Christ than when we meet at the altar rail.

Kristin said...

Sorry I'm so late in responding to your comment. I know what you mean about needing a church where Communion is central. I envy my Catholic friends their ability to go to Mass each day and receive Communion. At least my church includes Communion in the weekly service--some Lutheran churches still only do Communion once a month!

Andrea said...

I was interested in your comment about the role of eye-contact and the sense of intimacy it can create when receiving communion.

While I generally seek that person-to-person connection, as a pastor's spouse I now receive communion from my husband on a regular basis. I have recently become intentional about *not* looking at him as he hands me the elements, so that I can concentrate on Christ's promise ("...given for you") instead of my connection to my husband.

I certainly agree that as a communion server, the experience of offering the bread or wine to an individual or community of people I know and love (and whose struggles I have witnessed) is an incredibly moving experience. Yet I experience the same kind of stuggle here, since it is never my gift but Christ's gift and promise which I am placing in their hand.

Kristin said...

You bring up good points--thanks for those! I hadn't thought about how the human connection can distract us from the Divine connection.

Your post reminds me of an experience I had as an usher during the offering. I found myself saying, "Thank you." I reminded myself that it's really out of place for me to say thank you--their offering is not for me, after all, but a tribute to God.