Last Sunday was Youth Sunday at the church I serve. Our children and youth (of whom we don't have an enormous amount, but enough to make a nice little group) led worship, sang the anthems and solos, delivered the sermon via homemade sock puppets (a hilarious playlet called "God in a Box"), and joined me around the table for Communion.
As they approached the table, their eyes widened-- the little ones especially. Some of them had never been right up to the table on a communion Sunday. They regarded the bread, the juice, the gleaming platters and servers, with something like wonder.
I did a brief invitation, and then invited the young people to help me to pray the great thanksgiving. "What shall we give thanks for?" I asked.
"Food," someone said. Yes! Standing around a table full of bread and juice, of course, food! And prayer for those who don't have any or enough. "What else?"
"Our friends," another said. Yes! The people who love us, and who we love. The people who, when we look at their faces, we just have to smile. What else?
"The earth." Yes! And the thanksgiving went on like this, until we had given thanks, additionally, for our families, for our church, for the spring, for music, and more things-- wonderful things-- that have already slipped away.
"And we give thanks, most of all, for Jesus," I said. "What do we know about Jesus?"
A high school junior answered, "He is the Christ." Yes! God's anointed one, the messiah, come to save his people. What else? What did Jesus do? During a pause, I looked at a boy who was wrapped in sheets the day we read John 11 during Lent, and re-enacted the raising of Lazarus. "J., do you remember what Jesus did the day we wrapped you up in sheets?"
"He raised some guy from the dead!" J. said. Yes! And a girl, too. And what about other people, people who were not dead yet...? "He healed them!" said someone. Yes. He healed them. And what else?
"He gave people food." Yes. I picked up the bread. "What did Jesus do at dinner, the night before he died?"
"He shared bread with his friends." Yes... but before that, remember? What do you do before dinner? "He said thank you." Yes. He said thank you. Then he broke the bread, and he gave it to his friends, and remember what he said?
"Do this in remembrance of me." (An older youth). Yes.
And then, what did he do after dinner?
"He took wine." Yes! But we use juice. What did he do with the wine?
"He gave it to his friends." Yes, he said thank you for the wine, and then gave it to his friends, and said, "Take this, all of you, and drink it."
"He said 'This is my blood.'" Yes, he said, this is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.
Then we joined hands around the table, and the young people repeated this prayer after me:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Bring us peace, wisdom and joy. And let this meal be our true communion with one another and with you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
It was the truest communion I've known in the body of Christ in this time and place. Thanks be to God.