I was raised in a church that shared communion every Sunday. It consisted of passing a tray with teeny-tiny crackers followed by a tray of thimble-sized cups of juice. For a long time, I knew very little about communion. I knew we did it because the night before he was crucified, Jesus said the bread represented his body, the wine represented his blood, and that we were to do this in remembrance of him.
It wasn't until I was in my early twenties, when I became serious about Bible study, that I put together some of the symbolism involved in communion. That Jesus and his disciples had been eating Passover dinner, that the bread would have been unleavened, that Jesus was the sacrifice, how weird it would have been for Jews to hear Jesus talking about wine representing blood, and many other details.
After that, whenever I partook in communion, my mind was on symbolism, on the deeper meaning behind me eating the world's smallest cracker and drinking grape juice. In enriched the experience. For a while.
Last week my husband went backpacking in Colorado with his brother and a friend. (The connection to communion will come in just a moment, I promise!) For whatever reason, those three guys find it enjoyable to strap monstrous backpacks to themselves, venture into the wilderness, and hike for 3 to 4 days. I wouldn't mind it so much except I miss talking to my husband when he's gone. He sometimes gets a cell phone signal if he's on top of a really big mountain, but typically on these trips, there'll be a couple days where we don't get to talk.
This time, the day before he left I was struck with a horrible summer cold. Not only was I sick, I was really, really ticked to be so sick. Ben was leaving! I wanted to be able to have fun with him and the kids, not just lay on the couch and blow my nose. My husband said he bring home take-out for dinner, that it was the least he could do. He picked up Greek food for us, and as he was unloading it, he said to me, "I got the extra pita bread for you. I know you really like it."
A couple days after he'd left, when the kids were already in bed and the house was quiet, I pulled out the leftover pita bread and hummus from the refrigerator. As I ate, I thought about my husband. I thought about how nice it was that he had ordered extra for me. I thought about how what he did demonstrated that he loved me. I thought about how nice it was to have a tangible reminder of it since at the moment he wasn't tangible.
In short - I remembered him.
In Luke 22:19, it says, "And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
The symbolism involved in communion is certainly worth understanding and can enrich the experience. But what really matters is that act of remembering. Remembering that Jesus gave what he did - his body, his blood - because he loves you.
Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.