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One word that Ive been reflecting upon lately to describe faith is story.

God has a story to share with uswe can read and learn about the story in the Bible. Were spending time this year learning about Gods story in the Scriptures. Each of us has a storyits our own journey of faith. Knowing our own story is important because when our story connects with Gods story something powerful happens. You and I as a new church are developing a story. Its so much fun to develop this story with you. I share with people frequently that not many people have the opportunity in their lifetime to start a church. God has great things in store for us, and I cant wait to see how our story develops. Today is story tellingsome of my stories and some of your storiesand see how they connect to Gods story. The stories are about about Communion. My first memory of Communion took place before I was five years old. I went to church at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington, Minnesota. We worshipped in a large sanctuary it seats about 600. When we celebrated Communion the Elders would serve the congregation as we were seated. Each person would receive a pre-cut piece of bread on a silver platter and then each person would be passed a Communion tray and take out a small glass cup filled with grape juice from the tray. The people would eat that cube of bread then everyone at once would drink their small cup. Attached to the pew was a Communion holder. The Communion holder was a piece of wood with holes in it. On the inside of the hole was a piece of black rubber. When the congregation put their cups into that hole there was a big noise. As a five year old I noticed everything. There was one thing about Communion that I immediately recognized as a five year old. It wasnt meant for me. When the silver tray that had the bread on it came around my Dad told me to

pass it one. People didnt give me the glass tray because they didnt think I could hold it. I wasnt allowed to celebrate Communion. I really didnt know the meaning of Communion. But I could see that it was important. I would watch people close their eyes and pray when they received the bread and small cup. I could see that it was special to them. I wondered if there was something special about the juice. When no one was looking I would dip my pinkie finger into a small cup that still had a little Communion juice in it and taste it. I didnt understand the meaning of Communion I did understand that I was left out. I was excluded. I asked my Dad about this one Sunday after worship as we were walking to our car in the church parking lot. Why cant I take Communion. He told me that kids couldnt take Communion. As a five year old I got mad. Thats not fair!! Why could adults do something and kids couldnt. My Dad told me that I could write a letter to the Sessionwhich really didnt satisfy me. YesI didnt understand the message about Communion, but I did understand the message the congregation was giving me. The message I received was I wasnt important. Things have changed over the years. Im really glad that most Presbyterian congregations let children receive Communion. Ive always taken the side that once a child is baptized that child should be able to receive Communion. Though children might not understand all the intricacies behind the theology of Communion they do understand whether a faith community cares for them; and loves them; and includes them. I asked this week on (my) Facebook page if people had some stories about receiving Communion. Tiffany Godfrey shared that she first took communion in college when she went through confirmation. She had gone to a Catholic university and was never allowed to take

Communion at her own school. She was attending the local Presbyterian church and was confirmed there. She then took Communion. After not being able to take Communion at her own university it was meaningful for her to take Communion at a Presbyterian church. It was especially meaningful to take Communion on the day that her son Jacob was baptized at the church. Ed Peek shared that he took communion at a young age in a Baptist church after accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He didnt understand what Communion meant at the time. Hes take Communion in a number of different ways. Most of the time hes been in churches that take Communion either every Sunday or the first and third Sunday of the month. As hes matured Communion has been a reminder of the great sacrifice the Lord made. It is a time to give thanks to God and a time to be renewed. In addition to struggling with the question of how old a person should be to take Communion, churches have always struggled about what requirements should be set up to take Communion. Should the table be an open table where everyone is welcome; or should it be a closed table where a person has to adhere to the doctrine of the local congregation to receive Communion. Ive always been proud of being Presbyterian in that we have an open table. We do ask that people be baptized before they take Communion. But our belief about an Open Table comes out of the idea that the Table is the Lords Table. The table is not a Presbyterian table; its not the pastors table or anyone elses table. Its the Lord s Table. Just as God welcomes everyone, God welcomes everyone to the Table. Not every congregation has an Open Table. I believe that God cries when people are prevented from coming to celebrate Communion. Jesus was very clear in the story that Mary Ann

read that he desired that his followers would be one. When Christians prevent other Christians from coming to the table to receive Communion our unity is broken. Just as Jesus predicted people outside the church can see this disunity. Our lack of an open table among all congregations is a scar on the body of Christthe one church. I completely believe that if Jesus was present with us he would want every church to have an open table. Having an open table is consistent with how Jesus treated people and loved people. I was eventually able to take Communion at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington, Minnesota. I still remember the day. It was my Confirmation day. I had gone through a year of Confirmation in the 9th grade. I sat in the front row of the church with the other people with whom I was confirmed. I received Communion. It was special. I kept waiting for some magical wave to hit me when I took Communion. Nothing happened. As I was having my own spiritual moment I remember two boys in my Confirmation class screwing around in the front pew of the church. I was annoyed. As I prayed I thought that I was glad that I took Communion seriously. These two boys had not gone to every session of Confirmation as I had. They just didnt take their faith all that seriously. I was glad that I wasnt like them. What a sad storyabout me. Here I was being allowed to take Communion and I was judging my classmates. I was acting like the Pharisee in the story in where the Pharisee was praying next to a sinner and was praying that he was glad that he wasnt like the sinner. God was certainly glad that these two boys were screwing around were taking Communion. God loved these two boys with a love that far surpasses anything that we can imagine. At that moment as I was taking Communion I dont think God was too happy with me. When we celebrate Communion we put a mirror in front of our soul. We can see what is going on inside of us just as God does. Im embarrassed about the attitude I had on the first day I

received Communion. I might not have even realized my attitude if I hadnt taken Communion. Communion connects us to ourselves. It helps us see what God seessometimes its only through celebrating Communion that we can see that part of ourselves. I was asked this week on my Facebook page what we celebrate when we celebrate Communion. We celebrate a lot. We celebrate that at the Last Supper Jesus was with his friends celebrating the Passover meal. When we take Communion we are linked to a celebration that happened thousands of years before Jesus came. We celebrate that at the Last Supper Jesus gave a new commandmentwhat some would call the 11th commandment. That commandment was to love each other. Jesus beautifully displayed that commandment by washing his disciples feet. Jesus washed the smelly, stinky, most likely cracked feet of his followers and illustrated his love. When we celebrate Communion we can have a special experience of God. Sometimes our lives and the world looks differently after we commune with God. When we celebrate Communion we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. We are forgiven of our sins and have the hope of eternal life. Finally when we take Communion we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Most of all when we celebrate Communion we celebrate the intersection of these stories something amazing can happen. Today when we come to the table lets celebrate Gods story and our story.