Communion in the Beauty and Mess

I love communion: the bread, the cup, the words, what it evokes. There is a spring in my step whenever I find out that we are taking part in the Eucharist at church. Were it up to me, we’d do it every Sunday.

These first three weeks of camp, we have communion on the beach after Thursday’s worship service. There is something special about joining in the Lord’s supper on the beach. It is quite beautiful and messy at the same time.

It is beautiful because it takes place in nature. Two nights ago it was beneath a bright, nearly full moon with the wind whipping our faces and the waves swelling in our ears. There is something about the ocean that makes me feel very small. And when I feel small, I am struck by the incredible vastness of God. Yet communion reminds us that this vast and immeasurable God cares and even loves us finite specks of humanity. Thus communion in nature reminds me of God’s enormity and intimacy.

Yet participating in Eucharist on the beach is also messy. Human life teems all around. Sure there are people building sandcastles and children splashing through the surf armed with hermit crab-seeking flashlights. But there are also teenagers making out and drunk guys taking awkward stabs at karaoke immortality.

Honestly, I think communion in such a context is incredible. It is not sanitized or separated from anything that we would foolishly declare non-spiritual. It takes place in the real world. It attests to what Jesus did outside of our safe bubbles. Yes, there are distractions and messiness, but that is life. Communion in the mess represents how our lives as Christians ought to be lived. I believe that it is a very incarnational practice and the One we follow is a master in the art of incarnation.

So I’m starting to think that not only should churches celebrate communion more often, but perhaps we should take the show on the road. We can celebrate it in God’s vast creation. We can remember Jesus on city streets. We take the bread and the cup out of the sanctuary every once in a while. Perhaps it will open our eyes, hearts, and minds.

When God is not King

Turning Thirty