Serving Communion: A Practice of Inclusion and Invitation
Don Wiley of Murrieta, CA, USA
Do not be discouraged. You have not been promised an easy path, but you have been assured that the Spirit that calls you will also accompany you. That Spirit is even now touching alive the souls of those who feel the passion of discipleship burning deeply within. Many others will respond if you are persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world. -Doctrine and Covenants 162:3a-b
I was attending the Park Church on a Communion Sunday and was asked to be one of the two servers of the emblems. The Park Church has a mission of reaching out to the homeless. Before the worship service each Sunday, they serve a full meal to anyone who comes. Forty to eighty friends without homes come to the rented historic church building at Magee Park in Carlsbad, California, and a few stay for the worship. I knew that Communion was served differently here and was looking forward to the experience.
Preparation for the Communion experience began traditionally. The emblems were uncovered and the congregation knelt for the combined prayer over the bread and juice. After the prayer we took the emblems out of the building to the friends without homes in the park. I was not sure what to expect. Would the homeless be in line reverently waiting to partake of the sacrament, or would they even be aware of what was being offered? I soon found that this was the ultimate practice of inclusion and invitation.
There were 16 people in the park. Some were looking through the table of clothes just outside the building; some were playing catch, sitting around a table talking, or resting on the grass. My fellow server knew many of them by name and asked, “Would you like to partake of the emblems in remembrance of Jesus Christ this morning?” Sometimes he used different words but each time the invitation was clear: would you break from what you are doing and acknowledge the presence of Christ in your life? The first one said, “Yes, if you will first pray for me,” and Dick Foster lovingly put his arm around the young man’s shoulder and prayed for him. Some politely said no thank you. Most reverently paused and graciously accepted the invitation. Once the friends without homes were served, we returned to the worship service, served the waiting congregation, and ended by serving each other.
To me, this exemplified “servant” ministry. The practice of inclusion and invitation opened my eyes to what our lives could be like. No, I’m not talking about carrying serving trays of bread and juice to share with every stranger I encounter, but I carry within me the impact of Christ’s immense love and acceptance of me and of all people. How do I express and share that with those I meet each day?
We are one in Christ.
Week Five: A Living History
Consider the wider communion that we are preparing to enter- those ancestors who have gone before you, pondering in their hearts also how to wisely respond to the Spirit for the blessing of the church and the world. Imagine those who may come after you, years into the future, discerning and deliberating, pulling from wisdom past and creatively reaching into wisdom yet unseen. Give thanks and ready your heart for the voice of the Spirit that “echoes across the eons of time and yet speaks anew in this moment” (Doctrine and Covenants Section 162:1b).
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.