I learned about communion by intinction in a seminary class called Foundations of Christian Worship. This method of serving and receiving communion is an invitation to come to the table, receive a piece of bread, and dip it into a cup of juice.
Tonight, I got to assist in providing an invitation to the table of the Lord at our Good Friday service, then I got to help serve many faithful followers of Christ in this most holy practice during the most holy week in my faith tradition.
Tonight, I experienced communion differently. After we had served everyone, the next scripture reading in the series of readings and sacred choral works telling the story of Jesus’ last hours of life described the uncomfortable conversation between Jesus and his disciples, when they ask, perplexed, who among them is going to betray him.
“Is it I, Lord?” they ask.
“It is the one to whom I give this bread when I have dipped it in the dish,” Jesus says.
The one who receives the bread dipped in the dish is the traitor.
Thus, as this scripture was read immediately following communion by intinction, I was struck with a significant feeling of conviction and discomfort where I usually experience a meaningful warmth in my soul.
In that moment, “It is the one to whom I give this bread when I have dipped it in the dish,” emerged from its place in the past and from its part in the story of the last hours of Jesus’ life on earth into real time; into its part in the story of Jesus’ lasting legacy of love through his followers, to become a warning.
I am in danger of becoming a traitor to the cross of Christ, every time I take the bread that has been dipped in the dish.
When I move through the motions of communion on the first Sunday of every month or in holiday services,
When I don’t engage in the hard work of loving my neighbor – all of my neighbors – and when I refuse to forgive as I have been forgiven,
When I sit comfortably in my privilege, forgetting my complicity in racist systems of oppression,
and I take the bread dipped in the dish, I am a traitor to the cross of Christ.
May I never forget that “what wondrous love is this?” really means “how can I live wondrously in love toward my fellow humans?”