God calls us to share the word of God and the Lord’s Supper together to help one another grow–not just for when we start our baptismal journeys, but for our whole lives.
Vicar Mollie Hamre
Midweek Lent Service, Week 2, Year A
Texts: Isaiah 55:6-13, Psalm 121, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Matthew 15:29-39
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
There was a young girl in my home congregation who was fascinated by communion. The girl was preschool age or so, having long pigtails in her hair that would go over her shoulders. On Sundays her family would go to the front to kneel for communion, with her looking at them to watch. Watch as they would hold out their hands, watch the way they would receive communion, and then look at the way the Pastor would place the bread in their hands.
And eventually, this preschooler started to do the same. Practiced quietly waiting her turn, figuring out the kneeling up at front, and holding out her hands. Once this had been all put together, she was ready. Except instead of looking to the Pastor… She turned to her mother with open hands. Surprised, her mother quietly turned to the daughter, broke her communion in half, and then shared communion with the preschooler.
At last, finally holding the piece of communion in her hands, the daughter looked up and gave her mother an enormous smile. For the first time, this young girl got to be a part of what was happening.
When thinking about our baptismal lives, I am constantly reminded that children are wonderful teachers. They have genuine curiosity as well as questions that make you stop and think. They are exciting to share and learn with. And I know from my two-year-old nephew, they have plenty to talk about. So, in the baptisms of each child we see, bringing the Word of God and the Holy Supper come naturally. We want to teach, see that development, and be a part of that hope. These are the baptismal promises we make as a community.
But what about these promises in our lives when we become older? What about when that excitement and curiosity for the world turns into doubt? Into questions? Turns into seeing the parts of our world that have suffering. In baptism, we say the words in such a simple way: bringing one to the Word of God and the Holy Supper. But stating that and conceptualizing it are completely different. What about when we have read the Bible, take Communion together, and then are not sure what comes next?
Our text from Isaiah today reflects on a different angle to this question. The writer speaks about rain and snow as they fall to the ground, coming to Earth. Isaiah specifically notes that the snow and water do not return until it has watered the Earth making it “bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” Bringing growth in the forms of food and nourishment for the creatures of the Earth. I could not help but be amazed because it sounds like the water cycle. We know that when rain and snow fall on our ground, it cycles backup to nourish our world once again. Continuously feeding one another so that the Earth and creation may flourish.
Take that image and think about the Word of God and the meals we share. God comes to us, each of us, feeding us through community, literal meals, and hearing God’s words through those we do not know. And that community and Word grows in us. Telling us that we are loved, important to this world, and that the promises we make in our baptisms are held. Cycling back as we connect to our Triune God.
This is not the type of cycle one might expect.
So often we hear metaphors of faith lives being compared to pouring oneself dry and then having to go back to fill one’s self back up. Giving this image that in order to be filled, we must be empty. But what if we thought about our faith lives as a cycle? The cycle of each week when you enter into this space dipping your hands into the baptismal waters knowing that God moves throughout God’s creation, sending us “out in joy and [being] led back in peace.” Being sent out to live into the Word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper, then returning in peace to be part of those sacraments once again.
This sending out and being led back takes so many different forms today. It looks like telling LGBTQIA folks that in amidst injustice, they are loved, held, and supported. It looks like listening to our students in schools to ensure safe learning environments. It looks like aiding and standing with people in Ukraine, Turkey, Syria, and Afghanistan who are all suffering and in danger. It looks like calling for a greener world with less pollution and more hope for the future. These, and many more, are all ways the spirit moves within us, sending us out into the world and calling us back. Cycling within us the baptismal waters leading to growth and hope.
For the child in my home congregation, these cycles, these movements bring change.
Change that needs community, nourishment and continued growth, even into adulthood and past that. These promises made in baptism are not just for the ones being baptized in order they know the Bible or consistently take Communion, but that they know our Triune God continues to be present. That they know the spirit continues to move through them as well as through each person in the community. God continues to work through us. God calls us to share the word of God and the Lord’s Supper together to help one another grow–not just for when we start our baptismal journeys, but for our whole lives. Calling us to the table, to the baptismal font, and to one another.
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.