This afternoon, as I was finishing up serving communion to about 50 residents in a low-income skilled nursing community, a young Hispanic caregiver walked into the activity room. I greeted her and asked if she would like communion. She looked down and replied that since she did not live with her husband, some have said that she should not take communion. I thought, “Here she is – a beautiful young woman working in this very difficult minimum wage job. She is probably raising her children on this salary, and maybe some income from a second or third job, and someone has told her that she should not take communion?” I assured her of her worthiness. She smiled and gave me a very warm hug. She was not ready to take the elements, but it was too late. Communion had already happened. And truthfully, she served it to me.
I often hear the comment, “I am unworthy.” If we waited until this mythical state of worthiness appeared, none of us would ever get to take communion. Communion is not a merit badge. It is strength for the journey. It is the table that is always set and where no one is never turned away. It is not our table. It belongs solely to God. I serve and I clean up. I have said before that I really should be wearing an apron.
In this community, I do not even think there is a budget for activities. Even I can hear that the piano is out of tune. Some of its parts are held together by duct tape. However, it is here, where I have learned that Alzheimer’s is certainly not the only serious disease that can befall a human, that I hear the most alleluias. It is here that most eyes are focused on me as I read and talk about God. It is here that some will question what I am saying. It is here that a weary assistant will humbly take communion and then quietly return to shifting wheel chairs, pouring juice, finding napkins, and all the other tasks that it takes to support the living every day. It is here where Laurie, whose hands are completely stiffened and turned inward, will give me a crooked thumbs up and a funny smile when I ask how she is doing. It is here where Robert refused communion for a year, but now accepts and takes my hand and whispers thank you. He has stopped crying.
It is here where I fall in love with Jesus once again.
Come celebrate your worthiness at the communion table this Sunday.