Someone once asked me what I, as a pastor, find most intriguing about the distribution of communion. The question caught me a little by surprise, not because it was an odd question, but because I often think about the very same thing as I stand before my congregation holding the sacramental elements in my hands. It is very humbling to be the one called by God to preside at his table. At the same time, it is not far from my mind just how extraordinary this responsibility is and how blessed I am to occupy such office.
To answer my friend’s question, I think the thing that strikes me the most is looking at the hands of the people as I place the host in their outstretched palm. So much is said for making eye contact during communion, but how many pastors and communion assistants notice the hands? Eyes may be the window to the soul, but hands open doors…and windows. Hands do stuff. Hands work, play, and they even communicate.
As one particular gentleman comes to the table, he presents his hands to God so reverently; hands as wrinkled as prunes. When he stretches them out to receive the host, one can almost hear the crackling of stiff leather as it is being straightened. On Easter Sunday, another man had a bandage on his hand from a work related incident. And still one more person; a young lady, came to receive the sacrament with extended hands that are smooth as silk, almost childlike.
What do these hands all have in common? They are all reaching out to receive the bread of life. Young or old, rich or poor, every pair of hands gathered around God’s table are the hands of needy people. We need Christ. We need the salvation that is brought to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we stretch out our empty hands, God places love, reconciliation, and eternal life in them. As we pull our hands back towards us, God fills us with his grace, mercy and love. That is what intrigues me the most these days during communion. God fills us with the good stuff; God’s hands feeding us with the true bread from heaven so that we may have life and light eternal.
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