Body and Blood, by Krisi Johnson
Photo Courtesy of Autumn Elizabeth Photography
At six years old, my family moved to Grand Valley, Colorado. Which is a cluster of towns at about 9,000 feet above sea level, nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Our first church was as classic as you could imagine — white steeple, stained glass windows, coat hooks inside the double oak doors, a basement for potlucks and Sunday School.
Grand Valley Church was a place that could stir up warm nostalgia in even the most embittered closet-Christian.
It was also the place where I first learned how to judge the ‘non-Christian’ and the ‘unsaved’. Not by any particular gospel preached from the pulpit, or from hymns pounded out by the ancient organist.
I think is started with The Lord’s Supper (Er… communion for you non-baptists).
Each Sunday, as our pastor presented communion to his church body, he would say the same seven sentences about how “this bread is the body…this wine is the blood…if you are an unbeliever, make sure to get saved before attempting to participate.”
I was a law abiding child, and quite trusting. I lived meticulously by those seven communion sentences, and prayed to be saved by Jesus every week, just to ensure I could guiltlessly enjoy my mid-morning snack.
Well imagine me on bring-a-friend-to-church day, (you know, the day your pastor challenges his congregation to help save the souls of their neighbors).
I was all for evangelism, but I have this memory of standing at the back of the small sanctuary, arms folded, chin jutted contemptuously, watching the heathens intermix with the righteous, while filing down the main aisle, approaching the stage, dipping their body into blood and then returning to hard back pews.
“How can we allow them to get away with this?” I would wonder. Surely, it was obvious they didn’t know Jesus, and therefore didn’t deserve to partake. Not like me, who prayed so regularly to be a sound Christian, worthy of bread and juice.
Nineteen or so years later, and I find myself in different types of church, some with couches, some with maroon colored chairs.
These days, I tend to be the friend someone brings to church.
Not because I am an embittered closet-Christian (only somedays). But because since college graduation, I have yet to live in a city longer than six months. Which means I get to maintain visitor status at most churches I attend. The perks include up-front parking spots, but the negatives include but are not limited to judge-y six years old keeping theirs eyes on me during communion time.
At least this is what I expect.
As a child, I begged for salvation each week to satisfy my stomach. The only difference at twenty-five, is I beg to satisfy a different type of hunger. Most Sundays, I want nothing to do with God’s body and blood, or his contemptuous children, but I force myself down wide aisles, I coach my muscles to rip, dip and partake.
Because I want to be faithful. Even when I don’t understand fully what my faith is in, or why it matters. I have realized that communion is for me, the heathen, me, the broken.
It is more than a snack, more than a religious club practice, but a gift. Jesus knew this I think, which is why he invited a table full of betrayers, deny-ers, whiners and fisherman to join Him.
And he’s inviting me too.
Krisi is a middle class twenty-something who lives in Minneapolis, MN. She works with the Prodigal Magazine team and loves mountains more than the average human. She assumed all adventures required a passport, but is being proven otherwise. You can read more on her thoughts about growing up at www.krisiruth.com, or follow her on twitter at @krisiruth