(Posted October 1, 2015)
All across the world this Sunday, October 4, people will come together to break the bread and drink of the vine, in memory of the one man who gave his life for those he loved that they might have eternal life. It is also a day named for Francis of Assisi, who died on October 4 in 1226. There’s a connection there. Our communion is a transformed gift from God. Francis was a transformed son of a rich man who rejected wealth and status to embrace the earth and all of its creatures, even humankind. To Francis, the earth was more than the place we live. The Earth, in its entirety, is itself a sacrament, created and consecrated by God. It, and all that dwell upon it are sacred to God, even the grain of the fields and the fruit of the vine. And even humanity in all its contradictions.
On Sunday we will feast on the fruit of the field and vine. The bread people share around the world, and that which we bring to church on Sunday will take many forms.
The Lord’s Supper is one of only two sacraments in the United Church of Christ, along with Baptism. At that table we dedicate bread and wine to the memory of Jesus, who substituted his body and blood like the sacrificial lamb at Passover, to insure that Eternal Death would pass us over. If we’re listening and opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, we will realize how significant it is that both the grain and the grape must both first die to be transformed into bread and wine. We ourselves must be transformed in order to realize that what makes this sacrament communal is how we share it with each other, how we communicate God’s love to one another. We bring ourselves as gifts to the table, with our own unique talents. Through the tales of Francis, who had a gift for communicating to our fellow creatures, we know he brought his talents when he knelt to preach to the fish in a pond, or to bless and tame a snarling wolf, or to lift his voice to the sky and instruct the birds of the air to sing their alleluias to God. They were, after all, his brothers and sisters. His theology was simple. Love Them.
On Sunday we will be many and yet the same. We will be seeded and pumpernickel. We will be white and rye. We will be round as a baseball and as flat as poori or naan. But we all come to the table from the field, crushed and reassembled into the Body of Christ.
On Sunday, our own Sanjay Patel will play music from his native India in honor of all the lives gathered together around that table, mediated through his own God-given talent to bring the spice of music to the Lord’s Supper. Please come and break bread with us! --Pastor Pat Kriss