by Larry Rasmussen
When we visited my Grandfather’s parish, the message and music shared was like what we now cherish at St. Philip. St. Mary’s also had a fellowship time between services with kringle and coffee. It was tradition during this time that my Grandfather would escort us from those gathered at one table to another so we could meet some of the parishioners. More common than not, he’d introduce each new table with the words “and these are good people too.”
At first, and when I was much younger, I thought the introduction of “good people too” might have had a connection with the gathering at the coffee tables. Then, after several such intra-service gatherings I began to wonder, “Will this be the day when we don’t meet the good people?” If sinners come to church, why don’t they enjoy coffee and kringle? Since we never met any bad people, I’ve always thought of St. Mary’s as “the good people too” congregation.
My grandfather is now in heaven, but he is remembered and tangible not just through his words, but in keepsakes of his small communion chalice and Bible. The chalice and Bible were used for parishioner hospital or homebound visits. Though I never experienced one of those visits, I can envision him sharing confession, scripture, communion, and a blessing. At the conclusion of communion a humble and thankful “good people too” blessing would’ve been in character and representative of his and our faith. Words and tangible presence is transformational.
Now I better understand the mystery of St. Mary’s as “the good people too” congregation. It wasn’t the enjoyable social gathering at the kringle and coffee table, but the transformational gathering with bread and wine, body and blood, at the communion table that enabled the introduction and blessing bestowed on parishioners. Through words and real presence, Christ continues to share his communion with us and enables us to connect with saints that have, and are to come. More important, because of Christ’s sacrifice we can be excited and expectant for that day each of us will be introduced by Jesus to our Heavenly Father as “good people too.”
During Lent 2011, we are encouraging the St. Philip the Deacon community to reflect on the Sacrament of Holy Communion — recalling early memories, describing memorable celebrations of Communion, or reflecting on how Communion informs daily life. This post is part of that series. We invite your reflections about Communion, as well. If you would like to submit something for this series, please send it to Pastor Cheryl Mathison at firstname.lastname@example.org.