Jello Communion- A Call into Righteousness
This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles… Isaiah 42:5-6 (NIV)
There is no greater honor in my life than to stand at the Lord’s Table and proclaim: “Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another,” and then to press a piece of bread in the hand of a communicant, and tell them that this is Christ’s body, broken for them.
Throughout my ministry, I have occasionally heard of people who stopped coming to church on communion Sunday because they were afraid of dropping the pew-passed juice tray or spilling the juice because of a tremor or other impediment.
With the pandemic, more churches have gone away from intinction (dipping bread in the chalice) or passed trays, to using little disposable juice cups with peel-off tops. These little cups also require a fair amount of manual dexterity to open. Our “Open Table,” isn’t open to those who can’t open these little cups.
Last week my Aunt Ethel died. Ethel was a faithful church goer who never wanted to miss communion. But Ethel had tremors and did not want to spill grape juice on the church carpet. At her funeral, her pastor told of the solution she devised for Ethel – “Jello” shots. The communion stewards would make grape juice gelatin for Ethel and others with this need. And why not? We install sound loops, elevators and lifts and handrails. We replace doorknobs with handles. We add handicap restrooms. We offer large print and Braille hymnals. We do what we can to make our buildings accessible.
We offer gluten-free bread. What next? Whatever it takes to make a fully open table. Love your neighbor is made manifest in actions of accommodation. Rather than being right, the call into righteousness is doing right by those who need our actions. Could Ethel have just taken bread for communion? Of course she could. But the act of accommodating her was an act of love offered by her church.
Let’s us pray that we will answer the call of righteousness and do right by the Ethels in our midst.
Merciful God, help us to hear the call to righteousness to see the needs of others and respond with actions of love so that all will know we are Christians by our actions. Amen