A prayer after communion

A friend was preaching tonight at the local Metropolitan Community Church and since he’s somebody I have a lot of respect for and whose ministry I value, I went. I figured “it’ll be a lot of Jesus” which isn’t a bad thing but it doesn’t really mesh with my theology. I was right; it was a LOT of Jesus.

It was a really small service, maybe twenty people in the room all told, and I think I was personally greeted by at least ten of them before the service started. I finally agreed to fill out a visitor card just so they’d stop offering them to me. When reading through the order of worship before service I noticed that they were doing communion and looked around for an explanation of their communion practices.

I’m not as stringently anti-communion as I was when the school year started. I spent a good part of spring break reading about communion practices and came up with my own “guidelines” about when I would and would not participate in communion. Suffice it to say I didn’t figure that an MCC church would have any issues with my participation in communion.

Most denominations that do communion have the same general principle behind it and then mess with it just enough to be “unique” and to “confuse newcomers.” At this church it is common practice to take communion and then receive a short prayer.

Honestly I couldn’t figure out how to not participate. Everyone else was and I was confused so I just made sure to step to the side where my friend was praying with people since, hey, I trust the guy.

I’ve had some bad experiences with folks praying over/with/about/to me. Lots of praying out the demons of homosexuality, praying out the demons that cause me to be rude to my parents, the demons that make me cuss and, when I was 10, the demons that led to my owning a CD by Hanson (perhaps that prayer was justified). Two years ago I prayed with a chaplain at general assembly which sort of made me okay with the practice in theory but it really needs to be somebody I trust in order for me to really hear the prayer rather than focus on the ten kinds of awkward inherent in the situation.

Tonight I held the hands of a friend and minister and he prayed for me and, like I said, I trust him and I respect his ministry and he’s a good person. But the really touching part was that this guy knows me. He knows I don’t really do the Jesus thing much. So he fit the prayer to me. He didn’t end with “In Jesus name” he didn’t throw much (any?) God into the prayer, and there was no hierarchical “Lord.” He held my hands and he prayed for me in a way he knew I would find accessible.

I’m always collecting bits and pieces of what effective ministry looks like but I’m not some cyborg seminary student who simply collects information whilst ignoring emotional situations. I’ve had a pretty rough year and it was really touching to feel cared for and ministered to in a different way than usual.

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5 Responses to “A prayer after communion”

  1. I grew up in the Episcopal church, so communion was very much routine in my church experience. And the Episcopal church doesn’t believe in transubstantiation, so that wasn’t a part of the experience for me either. There, it is meant to be in remembrance of the life and sacrifice.

    My beliefs have changed pretty dramatically over the years and I no longer participate in church. But I am curious about your aversion to communion, in particular because you are in seminary. I understand choosing not to focus on that, but it sounds like there is more to it for you.

    If you are willing to expand on the thought, I would be interested in reading.

    • Jesus plays very little role in my personal theology and so a symbolic remembrance of the last summer is not something that stands out to me as particularly necessary to my religious life. However communion framed as community and remembrance and a signifier of a life lived well and shared selflessly is something I can at least get behind. Rarely will I initiate communion but if a space is clear that all may partake then I will.

  2. I worshipped at MCC Boston for a long time when I first came to the Boston area. Interestingly, it was the only place that my partner at that time, who was Jewish, and I could worship together. it’s a long story, but even synagogue was fraught for us. She would always receive communion with me there, I think because folks respected her beliefs and needs, as well as mine. I have a deep and abiding respect and love for the MCC traditions and community. It was integral to my formation and faith practice.

  3. THIS is why I keep telling people who were hurt in the name of Christianity (like myself) that there are a few good Christians out there, and we can’t judge the whole lot by the damage done by those who hurt us!

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