“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42 (NRSV)
We sometimes serve communion by intinction. The bread is received by the worshiper and the cup is presented for the bread to be dipped, and then eaten.
Things happen every so often whenever this holy mystery and children are mixed together. The child approaches, urged forward by Mom. The Lay Leader extends the bread, “the body of Christ given for you.” The child accepts…and swallows the bread; nothing left to dip in the cup.
Well, what now….scold the child? Well, THAT would be a holy moment, wouldn’t it?
What then? Well, of course you give her a second piece with Mom guiding the little hand. The piece of bread, held by that chubby little hand approaches the cup held by the preacher, and…plop, floating bread in the cup! Well…what did we expect? We did the same thing with that quarter when the other man held out the plate.
Now what? Forget it and try again next month? Let’s move it along; there are forty more people waiting in line.
I’ll tell you what I chose: Bread dropped in the cup is a teachable moment. I chose a smile and a new piece of bread. I chose to squeeze a little chubby cheek and smile and say, that’s ok, sweetie, here, Jesus wants you to have both the bread and juice.
And then I helped her see how the bread accepts the juice, and how good it tastes together. To her Mom, following behind, drained of all the color in her face, I chose these words: It’s ok, Mom; this is important, we take our time with this.
And why shouldn’t we take time when forty more people are waiting? Jesus did. He had time and eternity stand still to make this moment happen.
I love communion shared with little children…and the big children too! There’s something about sharing this holy and consecrated moment that happens only in very thin places, when heaven and earth are in close proximity, and time and eternity begin to accept each other like bread sopping-in the juice. Something else is coming closer too – our souls joining in communion with each other and God’s Spirit are a thin place of community that changes things.
Why shouldn’t we take time with something like that?
You are probably going to have some bread dumped in your cup today. It may be the thousandth time it happens at work or school, or on the drive somewhere. Somebody will drop the bread where it doesn’t belong.
Will you take time with it?
Will you let it become a thin place between Heaven and the calendar?