The Bishop’s E-pistle: Communion

I’ve been listening to Madeline L’Engle novels while driving all over Arizona in the past few weeks (we are on A Swiftly Tilting Planet right now) and it is reminding me not just of her novels and essays but her poetry.

As we return back ever more confidently to in person worship, her poem “At Communion” rings in my ears:

Whether I kneel or stand or sit in prayer
I am not caught in time nor held in space,
But, thrust beyond this posture, I am where
Time and eternity are face to face;
Infinity and space meet in this place
Where crossbar and upright hold the One
In agony and in all Love’s embrace.
The power in helplessness which was begun
When all the brilliance of the flaming sun
Contained itself in the small confines of a child
Now comes to me in this strange action done
In mystery. Break time, break space, O wild
and lovely power. Break me: thus I am dead,
Am resurrected now in wine and bread.

I have sometimes found it hard during the pandemic to truly “break time, break space” because I have felt my feet so weighed down with the concerns of earthly health and pragmatic problem solving. I have not always found time to sit at the foot of the cross and gaze upward at the One and step outside of the chaos that surrounded me.

But I feel like those vibrant moments of devotion are coming back. The sound of a choir; the strange new excitement of a handshake or hug; the delicate taste of a wafer dipped in wine. I have missed communion — broadly understood — so much these past 15 months. The sacrament of Holy Communion, yes, but also the communion between fellow Christians. I support every congregation in continuing their online and hybrid worship, and (not “but”) there is something so beautiful about the Body of Christ gathered together physically once again.

What have you noticed as your congregation moves back to a more-normal gathering and worship? What are the elements of our common life that have shown themselves to be most important, or most longed-for in the past season? And what elements of return have brought you the most joy or connection to God?