Sunday I attended a large church service to celebrate and welcome a new bishop in our conference of United Methodist churches. It was a beautiful service, full of meaning and symbols, full of worshipful beauty. The pentacle of the service came towards the end, when we were celebrating holy communion together. All I remember is the beautiful music, of voice and organ. It was music that lifted higher as it went on, voices raised upward toward the One they were worshiping. They worshiped with excellence and thoughtfulness.
The music lead us toward the front, and we walked quietly, taking it slowly and holding our hands in readiness to receive the gift of Christ's body and blood. I remember the line of people ahead of me, each eager to be there, looking for a place, and all with hands held out, palms open to receive what God has offered. There is a beauty in that symbolism, if anyone takes a moment to recognize it. Christ was a gift to us, a gift beyond comprehension. And we can receive that gift, as if we deserved it. We offer our hands, out stretched and palms upward to accept the gift offered, to feel the bread given, a symbol of Christ's body. To accept the bread and dip it in the cup that represents Christ's blood.
I saw it all in a flash, a moment in time as I stood in line to receive my gift. My gift of redemption, my gift of freedom from the sin that causes me such heartache. My gift of a relationship with Christ. My gift of experiencing the kingdom of God here and now. My gift of grace.
And everyone, together, received this gift.We did not pluck it from the hands of the giver. We did not grasp it and take it from His hands by force.
We waited until it was placed there. We waited until it was given. Just as there were thousands of years between the promise to Abraham, and the fulfillment of Jesus, we waited, time suspended until the gift was given, and we accepted it and it entered us and Christ entered us, and we tasted the ground wheat and the crushed grapes.
That was the pentacle of the service Sunday. That we accepted the gift given to us. The gift of Christ is accepted every time we accept communion. We experience the grace of Christ's love and power every time we accept communion.
Let us accept the gift always.