Allowing Communion to Shape our Everyday Lives
by Shannon Spencer
In the words of institution that we pray during communion we are reminded that Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine. We celebrate and remember the way in which Jesus lived, died, and will come again. It's a meal that happened over 2,000 years ago that continues to nourish us in order that we might be the disciples we are called to be. It's a sacrament that showers grace over all who gather.
What if this meal is also meant to form us - mold us into the people God has created us to be in the here and now? What if the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup is also designed to model for us what it looks like to be God's Manna people? Would God's abundance get equitably distributed like in the feeding of the 5,000?
In the words of the farmer and poet, Wendell Berry, "What we need is here." God has given us the resources we need to care for our neighbors and His creation. We simply, but profoundly, must allow communion to shape our every day lives - to not take more than we need, to share what we have, and to always give thanks to God.
With nearly 40% of our food being wasted and nearly a third of our population struggling with food insecurity we must find ways to rescue and redistribute. Asheville Poverty Initiative's 12 Baskets Cafe aims to do just that by serving a daily free lunch using only food that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. It's a small step but proof that each of us has something to share (resources) and something to gain (care for our environment) in creatively (and communally) addressing justice issues especially as they relate to something as primal as food.
The next time you partake in the sacred act of communion, open yourself to hear the invitation anew to follow Jesus: take what you've been given, give thanks to God for it, break it apart and pour it out. When each of us lives in this way all of God's people have enough and no one goes without. Thanks be to God!
Rev. Dr. Shannon Spencer is an ordained UCC pastor who currently serves as the founding director of Asheville Poverty Initiative - the non-profit that runs 12 Baskets Café and as a chaplain at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women But most importantly, she is the mom to two beautiful and amazing girls!