By some strange and wonderful circumstances I don’t quite understand I’ve been given the privilege of breaking a loaf of bread and saying, “No matter how young or old you are, whether you’re a member of this church, any church or no church, Jesus Christ invites you to receive this sacrament.” Then I never know what’s going to happen next.
Yes, people come forward. I give them some bread. The person next to me offers the cup. But, what then? Something mystical happens that I’ll never comprehend. And every now and then people tell me, “That’s the first time… ever, in a long time, or since (insert your important time, place, or event here).” And in the last five years or so, I’ve served a First Communion to a Jewish man, a Muslim woman, a recovering addict who hadn’t been in church for more than 20 years, and someone whose first (and previously last) communion had tasted so strange to them that they spit out the wafer and hid it in their pocket!
My own first communion was in a Baptist Church one summer when I was about ten years old. Good Methodist as I was being instructed to become, I was never allowed to receive the sacrament in my own church until I’d made my membership vows on Confirmation Day. That was the custom in those unenlightened times. But when those Baptist ushers passed the plates of bread and juice to us visiting Methodists, I partook just like everyone else. And (surprise!) no one complained. Years later, serving as Youth Leader, I sat on the floor with a circle of 15 or 20 kids and adults in a candle lit room at a retreat center. I said the words, broke the bread, and suddenly realized, “OMIGOSH! I’M NOT ORDAINED!!! Thank God, I kept going, finished serving, never told anyone until now. But it was wonderful. And last year I received my first communion from a very good friend who’s also a Roman Catholic priest.
Has there been a First Communion that has meant a lot to you? Was it your first ever, the first in a long time, the first in a new or special place, or the first since something fabulous or maybe since something dreadful happened? Every day’s a new day. And every communion can be a “First,” can’t it?
This post comes to us from Rev. Stephen C. Butler of McKownville United Methodist Church in Albany, NY.by