By Ted Fust
“My Heart Rejoices When I Receive Thee in This Sacrament!”
This is the inscription on a plaque I received from my godfather on the night of my first communion. While this phrase may be an “over glorification” or “over statement” of how I feel, communion is very important to me. It is difficult for me to describe and put in words as to how I really feel, but for me, receiving communion is the high-point or climax of the worship service. I feel both humbled and elated at the same time. I feel fulfilled in the sense that I am being rewarded by Christ for the effort I make in trying to follow his teachings.
Going back to the night of my First Communion, I can still remember it well (pictures help). There was a lot of “pomp and circumstance” that night. All of the boys were dressed in navy slacks, white shirts and red neck ties while the girls were in white dresses and veils.
The church (St. Anne’s Catholic Church in North Minneapolis) is a large, white stone, cathedral like building with large stained glass windows telling the story of Christ in words and pictures. It was brightly lit with most of the pews filled with family, friends and fellow parishioners. When the opening hymn was played, as we walked down the main aisle, the organist (an old nun) pulled out all of the stops and we could feel the vibrations of the deep bass notes. The high-point was when my cousin and I carried the “gifts” to the altar for the Eucharistic blessing.
Over the years, I have received communion in many different venues. Some of those places have been very humbling (a nursing home chapel), some have been quaint (a small country chapel), some have been somber (in a cemetery & by a lake) and some have been totally awesome (St. John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis). While each venue has left me feeling fulfilled, nothing compares to a service I attended in January, 2010.
I was attending Worship in The World at Klapprich Park in Wayzata, with Pastor Mathison presiding. It was a gray, cloudy, damp, misty and warm (for January-Temp-34) morning. The air was somewhat calm and it was very quiet. There was virtually no background noise with only the occasional call of a distant bird to be heard. I had built an altar out of ice and had positioned it on a hill under a barren blanket of Maple and Oak trees overlooking the rest of the park. It was a very serene setting; no church or cathedral could compare to this beauty.
We were joined by approximately 70 people including Amanda Berger & the Middle School Choir to lead us with music. Pastor Mathison prepared a simple service that included some of the traditional prayers, some “special prayers” and time for quiet reflection. When we were receiving communion, the breeze suddenly stirred which sent goose bumps down my spine (not because I was cold). It was as if spirit of Christ was amongst us.
As I mentioned earlier, I feel fulfilled when I receive communion. However, I could not and cannot put into words the elation I felt when I received communion on that day. I don’t know if I shall ever feel that way again.
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.