Over the last year I have had the privilege of serving communion alongside my pastor husband. Each time I do I am overwhelmed and grateful for the experience. To give you a bit of background that doesn’t tell the whole story, I can rarely receive communion without tears streaming down my face. I mean, not just a little teary-eyed, but streaming. God’s grace has always cut to the core of my being that finds it hard to believe I can be so well loved. I always feel a bit sorry for the servers, they must think something is really wrong with me. I fear they might usher me aside to a private triage prayer room for me to be able to pull it together. I want to whisper, “I’m okay, don’t worry, just a little overwhelmed by God’s love right now, I will be fine.” But I know I wouldn’t be able to choke out the words.
I can’t quite explain all of what is going on for me in those moments. A sense of absolute brokenness – awareness of my own depravity, loss, heartache and imperfection – swirls with awareness of love so profound – pure, undeserved, all-encompassing – that I can hardly bear it. To receive this physical reminder of God’s love and provision is always profound and I have no doubt of God’s divine presence when receiving the sacraments.
But to serve is another thing altogether. If I already struggle with the question of “who am I to receive such gifts of grace?” all the more I wonder, “who am I to present them?” To speak “this is His body, broken for you” or “this is His blood, poured our for you” and hear my husband speak the counter promise beside me is such an honor. Words more weighty than my wedding vows, that also clenched my throat tight as I spoke them with as much conviction as I could muster through tears of overwhelming gratitude. Looking each person in the eye, I do my best to speak the weight of these words into each soul.
But God forbid I know a bit of their story, or see heartache or gratitude in their eyes, because then the clenched throat comes and my eyes fill. It happened today when a fellow mom of young ones dipped her bread in the cup I held strong for her, then her husband who has also known a lifetime of heartache, a new person to our church I’d bonded with only the week before, my long time mentor mom from MOPS who was there with me in during the loss of my baby boy, then her husband who fed everyone at the funeral making sure my plate was full when I was famished. The newly married couple who are navigating loss and change, and the ones celebrating a decade but fighting to feel close. The mother of a healthy 2nd trimester baby who’d had too many early miscarriages to have still had hope, and the beautiful single soul who longs to find their life partner. And the stories in the hearts of the faces that tell me there’s so much more than the smile they return to me. Who am I, so broken, to bear witness to this sacred moment of receiving of God’s gift of sustenance?
That God would love us so much.
May you have strength for your journey knowing the body broken and the blood poured out for you.