Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Aborted Second Communion

When I was like 8 or 9 or 12 or something I took Firsts Communion at St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church in Austin, TX. I don't really remember it but we have the picture to prove it. And while I don't remember First Communion, I do remember that I hated going to CCD, which when you completed it, you got to take First Communion. I don't think I went back to St. Thomas Moore after that.

It was probably a good eight or so years before I had the opportunity to have my second communion at Grace Community Church in Austin, TX. Invited by a friend for Wednesday youth group, I ended up going back on Sunday morning. I was a regular do-gooder I guess. Anyway, they started passing around a tray with those little clear plastic cups filled with grape juice and little oyster crackers. Before the tray got to me, my friend made it clear that I shouldn't take communion. In so many words, I was told that if I had not had a conversion experience, taking communion would banish me to hell with no possible chance of parole. He said something like it's one of the biggest sins you could possible make: to take communion without being "saved."

So I passed by communion that day. I watched everyone else sip their grape juice and down their oyster crackers, wondering if they were strategizing just how to convert me.

Eventually I did take communion again. I did so tonight. I was thinking about this story and wondering if it is truly so offensive to partake in this ceremony without really understanding Christianity. I also began to think about how we're supposed to repent of all our sins before we take communion and I was wondering if there was a time - or rather, how many times - I had taken communion without examining myself and this allegedly most holy of ceremonies. So I tried to unload a few things as quickly as I could when Girl Supercomputer, who must have snuck out of the kids' room jumped up in my lap. I figured that meant it was time to get out of my seat and I headed up there and took the bread and drank the cup with her in my left arm.

One day she'll probably ask what communion really means. I have all these conflicting thoughts and conflicting stories to tell her. I don't want her to feel like she's not allowed to do anything, particularly partake in a religious experience. But I don't want her to just do it because everyone else is doing it either. I know I have a little time before such a day occurs, but I don't know what story to tell her.

I'll probably just tell her the one about when she prevented me from recounting every bad thing I had ever committed. That's kind of what Christianity is anyway.

Happy Easter!


adammoore said...

well-said, friend.

is it lamott who was so profoundly influenced by going to church and being welcomed into communion? i think so...seems like a good picture of Christianity to me - to be welcomed at the table without any exceptions.

Kendra said...

i like going to the episcopal church (at least in the Utah diocese. ironic, eh?) because they say, "anyone who would feel welcome to this table IS welcome, it belongs to the Lord." (and that's what they mean by "open communion.")