Lent 2020: Devotional On Communion By Kelly Carpenter

Kelly CarpenterBy Kelly Carpenter, Associate Director of the Center for Leadership Development

I gave up Communion for Lent once. The worshipping community I was in at the time celebrated Communion weekly during Lent. Through my first couple of years in the community, I noticed that at least one regular participant (and possibly more) never participated in receiving the elements of Communion. At the time, I had really never participated in a context with a closed table and thus wondered what it would be like to be 2 or 3 out of 100 who did not receive the elements.

It led me to a very different way of experiencing the grace of Communion. It expanded my empathy for those who join us at an open table that always offers the invitation for all to come, but rarely that it is also OK to stay. Everyone is welcome at God’s table, and God meets us as we are. (Unknowingly, I have since joined a community who is intentional of offering a full spectrum of open invitation to participate as you are.)

As I hope for my Lenten practices, “giving up” Communion both led me closer to God and transformed my experience of this sacrament and the communities with whom I participate. It also made Easter more exceptional. I imagine it is as close to a “first communion” experience this cradle Christian may ever experience. The experience also gave me a perspective on the power of being in the presence of the liturgy and communal experience of God’s Holy Mystery.

Communion is about to be very different. I look forward to the ways our pastors will lead us in this vital sacrament to draw us together while we participate in social distancing. Perhaps we’ll gather around Charcuterie spreads on our coffee tables or piles of biscuits and gravy on the kitchen counter. Perhaps we’ll create a shortage of Hawaiian rolls and individual serving grape juice. Some of us will receive in our homes as some of our pastors will offer the liturgy of communion over livestream. Some of us will participate in a Love Feast as we do under many circumstances including when laity gather and desire to celebrate a common meal together. Each will prepare a table in a way honoring their sacramental belief and their community context.

Lent in 2020 is becoming a season in which everyone is “giving up” more than planned and more than ever. Lent in 2020 is becoming a season to be different. Lent in 2020 is asking me to find communion and Communion in new ways and through new eyes of empathy. Perhaps Lent in 2020 is becoming a season to sacrifice, to be set apart, to be open for deeply new life.

Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2020