Thursday, October 13, 2011

Communion = Common Union

This is Kara's view of the barrio surrounding the white church in Bogotá, Colombia. (Photo by Kara Crawford)

On Sunday, my church had communion. This was my first time taking communion here in Colombia, and, as taking communion for the first time with any group, it was a new experience for me. This church all waits and takes the elements at the same time, different than what I am used to (by-and-large) in the US, moving forward in an orderly, single-file line and take the elements as we receive them (well, or if we’re doing intinction, we dunk then partake). But two things really struck me this go-round of communion.

First, at some point during the service, the pastor said that we would be taking communion, and he then referred to it as a “común unión” – a common union. And this was the first time that I had really thought a lot about the significance of the term communion. He said it’s a point of common union – a common union with God, a common union with each other. I thought that this was a beautiful way to understand communion, that brought a new light to the subject.

Second, after church we had a potluck of sorts, to which many people brought food to share with the group. Now, for me, growing up as a United Methodist clergy kid, potlucks were an integral part of my church experience. In fact, at times, they have almost felt like more of a common union, a communion, than the actual Eucharistic act. Everyone brings what they have to a common table; we all share and partake, and participate in a familiar (both in the sense of being well-known and in the sense of being a family) act, sharing a meal together, sharing in conversation, and simply sharing.

This particular potluck was to celebrate that the month of September (I believe it’s the whole month – at least that’s my understanding) celebrates “amor y amistad” – “love and friendship” – here in Colombia. So the fact that I was able to, so early into my forming community here, partake in this familiar act of common union, of communion, of potluck, was incredibly significant to me, and I’m already beginning to feel more and more welcomed as part of the family. Because when you share and break bread with the family, whether in an act of Eucharist or in an act of sharing a literal meal, you are taking part in a connection that is greater than yourself. In this case, the connection was in the Methodist family, in the Christian family, in the human family.

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Kara Crawford is a missionary, a Mission Intern, of the United Methodist Church. (photo courtesy of Kara Crawford)

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