Five different kinds of communion

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13 Aug 2015

I watched on with fascination recently as an elderly woman in our congregation received five kinds of communion.

The first was from her daughter who brought her to Mass.  The gift of family and the sense of communion that we enjoy with them is often underestimated.  The weekly giving of time and energy in this simple gesture is a sure example of the gift Jesus means us to share.  

I witnessed a similar sharing a few years ago when a young nephew was seriously injured in a car accident.  Not only his parents, but his two older sisters and numerous relatives and friends put their own lives on hold for months at a time to be with him through his convalescence and rehabilitation.  Celebrating his twenty first birthday recently was an especially meaningful family celebration.

The second communion was with the congregation sharing the word and table.  Taking part in this familiar ritual surrounded by family and friends from various parts of our lives provides a sense of belonging and peace that is hard to find in any other setting.  We are accepted as we are, as we have always been in this the local body of Christ.  There is no need for introductions or explanations.  We are a part of this community.  We sing and pray and listen together.

The third communion was delivered to the elderly woman at her pew.  With limited mobility, the priest or Minister of Communion makes this weekly detour to ensure that what we do in remembrance is made available to all equally.  This sharing joins us all to the body of Christ around the world and through time in ways that are both mysterious and corporeal.

It was the fourth communion that struck me most.  A close friend, on her way back from the more formal, ritual Communion stopped to give the elderly woman a hug and a word of encouragement.  For me, this was the culmination of The Sign of Peace.  The shared wish of goodwill and peace for each other that was promised by the angels at Christ’s birth is now made manifest through the people of God here in our very church, through our neighbours and friends.

The final communion came after the formal celebration of the Eucharist was completed.  One after another, members of the community come over to exchange pleasantries, enquire about her health, comment on her beautiful great grand-daughter and share the latest news.  

If communion means never having to feel that you are alone, then this is the reality that is alive and well in so many of our churches every Sunday and indeed, whenever two or three are gathered in His name. 

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