BlogFam, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
This is my first blog post of 2015 and I am excited to be in the groove of writing again. My goal this year is to post every Monday. And YES, I know today is Tuesday. [Insert Blank Stare with a Kind Smile here LOL]
Anyway, moving forward, I will do my very best to keep my commitment to myself and to you by sharing a NEW blog post every Monday! PLEASE do subscribe and share the blog with at least 5 people for me so we can build our blogging community. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the blog.... though the trend has been for my readers to comment on Facebook and that is cool too! Lastly, follow me on Twitter @AudraSunshine or @SpiritedConcept AND be on the look out for my NEW YouTube Channel - Spirited Concepts TV - that will launch in the next few weeks! More information soon...
Now on to the reflection for this morning...
MY FIRST COMMUNION.... I participated in my very first communion when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. I honestly do not remember much about it. I remember that in the tradition of my home church, you could not participate in communion until you were baptized and I I got baptized around that age. I remember my baptism. My dad and one of my favorite deacons baptized me at Midway Church - Folsom, LA. I was wearing a specially made white baptism robe and hat crafted by my grandmother and I was nervous. I remember all of these people standing and kneeling around the baptism pool watching me and singing and smiling. It was a very special moment. A happy time in my life and on my journey as a believer in Jesus Christ.... but I do not have a very clear memory of my first communion. I just know that it came after my baptism.
I had another first communion just a few years ago. I was new to the ministerial staff at Salem Bible Church - Atlanta, GA - and I was on the schedule to serve communion. It would have been my very first time. I was so very excited to share the elements that represented the body and blood of our Lord. I prepared my mind and my spirit by fasting a few days that week in preparation for that moment. I remember that I just wanted to have the right spirit as I served God's people. Well, on the Sunday morning I was scheduled to serve, there was a very bad storm and since I was staying with a sick relative for the weekend to help care for her, my commute was a longer distance from the church. I was so determined to make it to church to SERVE my first communion that I pressed my way through the storm and the rain but I was too late. The elder had already reassigned my duties and I was heartbroken. I cried. I cried because I was so prepared and so ready and so looking forward to this moment and I missed it because I was late. I went to the elder to apologize for my tardiness and to ask for another opportunity. He graciously accepted my apology, another minister gave up their spot and I served my first communion on the same day in the next service.
And now to my first communion of 2015... I decided to launch 2015 in a different kind of way. On Friday, January 2, I attended a half-day silent retreat that blessed my life. It was a unique experience in some very obvious ways. I was the only African American woman and probably the youngest person there except for one lady who brought her twenty-something daughter. All of the women there were probably old enough to be my mother or grandmother or at least a significantly older big sister. It was my first time gathering with these women who have obviously known each other for years and who regularly worship, fellowship, pray and commune together.
I did feel welcome from the moment I entered the door. It was not way too over the top but just enough to show that they were glad I came. Now, I am sure that there were a few who might have wondered if I knew what I was doing there and I did get asked the question "How did you hear about the retreat?" But I did not mind. It was not the first time I had been the "only one." The retreat opened with a light breakfast and then we gathered in the chapel for devotion. We said a few prayers, read a litany, listened to a reading of the Gospel, and enjoyed a sermonette from our retreat leader. At the end of the short sermon we were invited to receive communion.
I will not lie. BlogFam, my mind started going in a brief whirlwind for a quick moment because I did not see any gold communion trays that were used in my very first communion, the kind that held individual cups of grape juice. And I did not see any baskets filled with the pre-packaged communion that many churches use today, including the place where I served my first communion. I only saw a tray of bread and ONE cup and two women holding out each of these elements inviting us... inviting ME to come.
I had a decision to make and it had to be made quick, fast, and in a hurry. Do I get up or just sit and observe? Do I take the bread and skip the wine? Do I take the bread and dip it in the wine? OMG! I have never ever ever drank from the common cup! Should I wipe my lip gloss off? Will these white women want to drink after this black woman? Does this one black woman want to drink after this row of white women? OMG Again! What would Jesus do? And Lord, I need you to speak quickly!
Friends, all of these questions were running through my mind and then I found myself standing and walking and thanking God in my spirit and then the tears began to flow... And as I walked up to take my first communion of 2015, this older white woman with deep wrinkles and a messy head of curls, looked at me and smiled as she offered to me the blessed body of our Lord. With tears in my eyes and beginning to roll down my cheeks, I received it. Then I walked a few steps over and was greeted with another smiling middle-aged white woman with short, straight brown hair who lifted up the Common cup to my lips and invited me to drink. And I drank. For as often as you do this, you do this in remembrance of ME.
I walked back to my seat in tears but so full of JOY because I had never participated in Communion in that way in my whole life and I believe the Lord blessed me and freed me to LOVE Him and my neighbors in a better way.
BlogFam, my first communion of 2015 changed my life and I know I will never be the same. The Lord invites ALL to participate and remember, to receive His grace and His mercy, to experience peace and community, to enjoy His presence and His promises, and to give and receive blessings at the table of the Lord. And anytime we exclude anyone from this contact with Him, we are doing a disservice to the Kingdom and misrepresenting His amazing love. For as often as you do this, you do this in remembrance of ME.... in remembrance of Jesus Christ. Communion is not a time for just you or just your church or only your traditions or your hangups or your way of doing things in life and ministry. Communion is for EVERYONE because we ALL need to remember Him often.
Friends, I pray that in 2015, you would have a FIRST Communion with God that will change your life for the better. I already have! TGBTG!
GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
P.S. - And YES I was crying as I wrote this post because that moment was just so powerful to me... THANK YOU JESUS!!!