When I was growing up, I didn’t understand Communion at all.
And looking back, it’s kind of adorable. I have four stories:
Heather at 7
We called it “Lord’s Supper” at my church growing up. And even though I really didn’t understand it, I was drawn to it.
In our tradition, you didn’t receive Lord’s Supper until you were saved. At the ripe age of 6, all my friends were getting saved and baptized, so I asked Jesus into my heart too. I loved Jesus, but I also wanted to fit in with my friends. Because my parents didn’t attend church, they moved very slowly to honor their wishes and make sure that I was “serious” about that act.
But who is “serious” about Jesus at 6? Well, maybe I was.
And so…I walked down the aisle about another dozen times.
One Sunday, I walked down the aisle to ask Jesus into my heart again. I filled out the membership card again. And because I was in the front aisle, I missed the Lord’s Supper.
After the service, I told the pastor I missed it. He told me it was okay. But I insisted–I was 8 years old and I wanted the wafer and the juice. So, he took the Lord’s Supper with me, individually. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. He may not, either–it’s when the church realized I was going to be pretty unrelenting about this whole Jesus thing. So a few months later, my entire family came to church (for the first and only time in my life) and I was baptized.
Heather at 11
My dad’s side of the family is Catholic. One time we were visiting my great-grandmother’s church for mass. When it was time to receive the Eucharist, I stepped forward. In a Catholic church, only Catholics can receive the sacrament. My family was trying to tell me, in hushed tones, that I couldn’t go forward. In order to get my attention they were pointing and waving and even physically trying to block me.
I’m sure you’re not surprised: I pitched a fit. Upset, I cried and didn’t understand why I couldn’t receive some bread and juice. I didn’t understand the Eucharist fully, but that didn’t mean I should be denied the elements. How could you tell somebody that they can’t have the body and blood of Christ?
Heather at 18
At 18, I was first introduced to Communion by intinction. Up until this point, I had wafers and cups of juice. At one point my church had switched over to the cups where the juice was at the bottom, then there was a film, then the wafer, then another film (Looking back, I wouldn’t ever do it that way again, personally).
We were at summer camp, where I was a counselor. The camp pastor didn’t explain intinction, and nobody knew how to do it…including the adults. He left it on the altar for anybody to take it as they’d like, at their own pace.
About 12 minutes in, nobody took the Lord’s Supper. In the Southern Baptist tradition, you don’t take Lord’s Supper if you have unrepentant sin. The camp pastor got wise to the fact that this room of teenagers wasn’t that strict…so he explained it. And guess who was first to grab that bread?
Heather Lea Campbell.
Heather at 21
I took a class in college called “God and Humanity” that changed my entire perspective on Communion. For the first time, I got it.
At the end of 30 Hour Famine, they suggest breaking the fast with Communion. At my church where I served as youth director, technically anybody could serve it. But women couldn’t serve as pastors, so it’d be taboo for a woman to serve Communion.
I’m sure you can guess: I served Communion to my students. Without asking leaders of the church. I just did it. And it was fantastic.
Heather at 26
Today, I still love Communion. Since I run programs during church services, I don’t take it often, except with staff once a month.
So the Heather of today tries to sneak over into church on the first Sunday of month and take it with the congregation. We use Hawaiian sweet bread, so you can understand.
I didn’t realize my funny history with Communion until I was writing a lesson on it for Confirmation–we talked about how it’s kind of an awkward act, taking someone’s body and blood and popping it down the hatch.
But for me, I have always been an embracer of awkward and mysterious things (hence why I work with middle schoolers).
My hope is that we can raise up a generation that is desperate for Jesus the way I have been my entire life for the bread that represents the Body and the blood that represents his lifeline.