A few weeks ago, I was invited by the Celebrate Life Recovery Leadership Team to offer the Sacrament of Holy Communion to the folks who gather in the sanctuary on Sunday evenings. “No problem,” I said. After all, I have lost track of the number of times I have presided at The Table over the long years of my life in ministry. It is a ritual as old as Christianity itself. I probably can recite the words of institution in my sleep. (My husband Gord has asked me not to!).
So, with the help of our ever-faithful Communion Planner, Bill Moore, the date was set and I went about my regular work of attending meetings, writing documents and being in touch with those who are ill and in need of our tender care.
The date rolled around and, as usual, Bill had meticulously set the Table and made sure that servers were in place. But, somehow, standing in front of a group of people whose very lives depended on them being there to hold on to their sobriety or to keep them out of jail through the Drug Treatment Court program, the atmosphere changed for me. It became electric, crackling with energy generated by the people who had gathered. Some would say that electricity was generated by the Holy Spirit.
I reminded each person in the sanctuary that their very presence there that night was a gift to the God of their understanding; that each one of them was a beloved child of God, worthy of love and respect; that no one could stop them from taking their rightful place at the Table, a place reserved for them. And so, after the words of institution, the ritual unfolded. Tired, exhausted and worn out from the struggle of fighting to stay sober or clean, everyone in that sanctuary came forward, eagerly, to receive the bread and the grape juice (we are, after all, a Recovery church!). Their hunger and thirst were palpable.
And I, who had presided at Table hundreds of times before, was moved in a deep and profound way by their eagerness. I was fully able to comprehend, for perhaps the first time in my life, that the bread of life and the cup of promise were just that, in a way that I had never known before. When your spirit is broken and famished, the bread of life renews and revives you. When you are thirsty for one more drink to ease your craving, the grape juice is a reminder that you can drink from the cup of life and remain sober.
As I was standing at the back of the sanctuary, sending people out into the night with a warm handshake, a man came up to me, tears streaming down his face, thanking me for reminding him that his life mattered and that God loved him. I gave him a hug and his whole body was shaking, overcome with the new knowledge that came to him that night. His life mattered and no one could take that moment away from him.
Today, in our morning worship service, our Celebrate Life Recovery Team will offer you a worship experience that is profound and deep. And while we will not be sharing Holy Communion this morning, we will have the Holy Spirit poured into us, renewing our hearts.
Blessings Rev. Linda