United States

as in Presbyterian Church in America
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Planet Earth nerd
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Joined September 10, 2019

Message to Readers

Okay, so I added some new edits to the end... Let me know what you think!

Food for the Soul

June 5, 2020

    When I was six years old, I finally mustered up all my courage to ask my mother the question that had been haunting me for months, "Mom, why can't I eat the crackers at church?"
    It was a Sunday, and the hour hand was inching ever closer to twelve. It had been nearly five hours since breakfast, and I, a food-obsessed first grader, was absolutely starving. The pastor's voice droned on and on as every second seemed to slow to a slug's pace. As my stomach rumbled, I glanced at the clock and realized I probably wouldn't make it to the end of the morning worship service if I didn't get my hands on something, anything, to eat.
    Salvation wasn't far away though, for this was a Communion Sunday. At the front of the sanctuary, silver plates stood gleaming proudly, each filled with either broken saltines or small, plastic cups of grape juice. In a few minutes, the sermon would end, and the ushers would pass the plates around to each of the church members. If I could just have one cracker, my stomach would be satisfied, at least until I could make it home for lunch.
    The only obstacle was my mother. Week after week, she denied me the right to eat the crackers, despite the fact that she could hear my stomach growling unhappily beside her. Still I held out hope; perhaps this week she would decide to be a little more kind and would allow me to have the cracker I so desperately wanted.
    But she would not budge. When I leaned over and quietly asked if I could have the crackers this time, she shook her head and told me I wasn't old enough. And so I sat sullenly, watching my parents eat the crackers and drink the grape juice, heads bowed in reverent prayer. I didn't yet understand why I couldn't participate in this simple, seemingly unimportant ritual. And I wouldn't for many years.
    As a seventh grader, I began the membership class at church. In our denomination (the Presbyterian Church in America) Communion, or the Lord's Supper, is reserved for members, the people who have publicly confessed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To become a member, a person must take five vows; by taking these vows, we acknowledge our need for a Savior, affirm our faith in Jesus as that Savior, and promise to live in a way that is fitting for us as His people.
   Two years ago, I took all five of those vows, and, although plagued by doubts at the time, I truly meant them. I took my first Communion, finally allowed to eat the crackers I had longed for since I was little, but, by then, I had begun to understand what Communion meant, and why my parents previously wouldn't let me participate in it: Communion, I realized, is not a mid-morning snack.
    Communion, at its heart, is about remembering Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. The Bible commands us to take Communion in remembrance of all Jesus has done for us. That first time taking Communion, while incredibly aware of my own sins and shortcomings, I also had a deep, very real sense of my Savior's love for me. As I sat in the pew, cracker in hand, this love washed over me like a flood in a way that it never really had before, to the point where I could only silently ramble "thank-you" to God, over and over again.
    Communion is definitely not about the food, at least, not about the kind that goes in your stomach. No, Communion is so much deeper than that. It is about satisfying yourself spiritually, about being in a deep, meaningful relationship with God, about affirming your need for His saving grace again and again and thanking Him for it.
    This is why my parents would not let me participate in Communion as a first grader. It was not because they wanted to starve me; it was because they wanted me to first understand who God was and why I needed Him so much. I am grateful that my mother did not yield and let me eat the crackers as a first grader, since that experience would have degraded Communion's meaning and made it more about food and less about God.
    As COVID-19 restrictions are gradually lifted in our area, our church will begin making plans to meet again in a way that is as safe as possible for our members. I have heard they are also preparing for a different form of Communion, one that will not require us to pass the plates around the sanctuary. However they choose to administer it to the congregation, I am certain that I will be the first in line to take it. To an outsider, or a hungry first grader, it may just look like some crackers and grape juice. But to us, it is so much more than that.

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