I had a God moment during Jeopardy!, and for once I am not talking about when I tell Dana that I am the Jeopardy! GOD because I got a really obscure question right and she has no friggin’ clue how I managed to pull it out of my ass. I mean I had a real God moment, the kind that makes you pick up your notebook and jot it down so your ADD doesn’t stop you from really analyzing it later. It’s later. The category was “Amen,” meaning that all the questions were words containing the letters a-m-e-n in order. The 100-watt bulb that went off in my head was due to the question, “what is sacrament?”
According to Wikipedia, the catechism included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.” Those are very fancy words, but what do they actually mean?
I have a different take on communion than most Anglicans/Episcopalians because I grew up in the Methodist church, where we practiced open communion. In the Anglican/Episcopal church, it is a Rite to be able to come to the table- you are prepared for it and the chair is pulled out. In open communion, it doesn’t matter what you look like, how you’re dressed, if the curlers are on or off. It doesn’t even matter what age you are. When you go to your family’s house, you eat.
Yvette Flunder has a great sermon about it. We’re all family, and we all show up for this meal with each other once a week. The part that Dr. Flunder leaves out that I am adding is a new take on what miracle actually occurs- you get food anyway.
You get food anyway.
Years before I started dating Dana, I was dating a woman in my church that I really liked, but it was a disaster of an idea from the start. We were just too involved with ourselves to care. We broke up, and the fallout was nuclear in its blast radius. That Sunday, I came to church with the clothes I’d been wearing from the night before, hadn’t brushed my teeth, and had clearly had a very good (or very bad) night. I was a walking accident, and to add insult to injury, I was also crying. I got in line for communion and went to the rail.
I was so sad that if there had been an altar, I probably would have put my head on it… and when my minister reached me, she saw my pain, my distress, my utter disarray… and she gave me food, anyway. The miracle of communion is that everyone who comes to the table is fed, regardless of anything that might divide them. The example is confessional, but our stories are the same.
We are all fallible and irreplaceably human and all have those moments where if the grace of God was placed directly on our tongue we’d have trouble realizing it was RIGHT THERE! RIGHT THERE! WE ARE TOUCHING IT- WE ARE SO CLOSE! What keeps us all from breaking the barrier between “almost” and “really” is our part of the deal- the one where we openly, freely accept God’s grace. In fact, if we’re not open to it, we won’t even accept grace from ourselves, much less God. Receiving grace is opening yourself to the possibilities of the universe and simply saying, “let it be so.”