When we celebrate Holy Communion, we not only have communion between us and God, or between me and God, but communion with each other.
Before we come to the table, we prepare ourselves to approach God. When celebrating Holy Communion in the Methodist Church tradition the service begins with the Prayer of Humble Access including the words derived from the Syrophoenician Woman's encounter with Jesus while he was having a meal in a house (Matthew 15:21-28) - 'We are not worthy even to gather up the crumbs under your table.'
We have been taught to reverently approach God, to reverently approach the table and to reverently receive the bread and wine that is offered to us as the body and blood of Christ but what about reverence for each other. God is not just present in the bread and wine but also in those who gather with us.
Gathering to celebrate Holy Communion is an opportunity to approach one another with the same humility and awe with which we approach God. John O 'Donohue says, 'The way we are present to each other is frequently superficial' (p.24 of his book Beauty). He says we have become more interested in connection than communion. We lose the rich potential for friendship and love remains out of reach. We can’t just fix our eyes upon Jesus without approaching the people around us.
When we approach each other with reverence something awakens between us - the hidden beauty of God is revealed. This awareness is of a much deeper connection than we could have thought.
This connection is alive with grace and mercy, kindness and compassion,
understanding and empathy. An awareness that we are one.
It is truly communion.
When you next approach the table remember that we also approach one another.
Prayer of Humble Access
We do not presume to come to this your table,
merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
But you are the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy.
Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh
of your dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood,
that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us. Amen.
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation