Preacher: Jessie Houff
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
Date: October2 , 2022
I didn’t really understand communion until I moved out of my hometown and was living on my own. I attended a church while I was in Brethren Volunteer Service in Upstate New York. As I was sitting in the pews, by myself, no parents by my side or anyone to influence me, I was able to participate in worship freely, unencumbered by expectations or assumptions from those who have always known me.
As I listened to the words and scripture spoken during communion, I was able to hear these words fresh, as an individual, an adult, a human being. This bread, which we break together, is the actual body of Christ – a symbolic representation of the sacrifice Jesus made for his siblings eternal – for infinity and beyond! What a wild concept. And this drink of wine, a symbolic representation of Jesus’ actual blood, which was spilt. Damn, that’s heavy. Too heavy for my tiny self to understand until I became my own person.
A lot changed when I became my own person. I, unlike others I knew growing up, didn’t really find myself truly until those years after I left my parents house. I let others and my environment influence me and my decisions. This is why I identify as a person with a pretty heavy decision-making disorder. It’s not easy for me to make a decision, no I must pause, ponder, reflect, “What DO I want for dinner tonight?”
God gave us the unexplainable ability of goodwill. We can do what we want, with the understanding that if we do something that is not good, we need to ask for forgiveness. And we know God will always forgive us…assuming our intentions are – you guessed it – good.
Y’all, this time for communion is a personal one. Oftentimes Love Feast includes a time for repentance – a word for word written response to speak in unison – a prayer asking for forgiveness of our sins.
We will not be reciting a repentance together today. I’ll tell you why. The last several times I’ve been in a service, not just here, wherein we recite the ask for God to forgive our sins, It’s almost caught me off guard. I know it’s coming, but I’m asking forgiveness before I even identify what sins I need to ask forgiveness for. And then, as we’re reciting, I identify the sins after I’ve already acknowledged that I’ve been made clean.
This bothers me. And y’all, I’m young. I’m still growing, still learning, still deciphering what all this means, but I feel wrong to stand before you today and ask you to repent when I myself don’t even know if I’m ready to repent. Oftentimes the acknowledgement of my sins shines a light on the things other people think my sins are, which isn’t the point. Further confusing my need to ask
forgiveness. It’s a weird cycle.
So no, we will not be reading a written repentance prayer in unison. Instead, I would like for you to have your own conversation with God. What is it you need to check in with God about?
When I step up behind this pulpit here at Washington City, I say and pray things that I feel I need to hear myself and hope and pray that someone in the congregation gets it. Growing up, I didn’t have any kind of female representation at the pulpit. I didn’t see any youth or young people represented behind the pulpit except for that one youth service each year. I certainly didn’t have any non-heterosexual representation, at least that I know of, and if there were, my goodness it was most likely riddled in shame or uncertainty.
I have come to realize that instead of waiting for someone else to say the things I was desperate to hear behind the pulpit, I was just waiting for me to grow up and do it my damn self.
One of my favorite bands, Judah and the Lion, recently put out a new album. Their song, Take a Walk, without a doubt will always make me cry. Because I’ve come to realize their words resound within my bones. They talk about how their adult lives aren’t what they thought they would be…that they aren’t as “together” as they thought they’d be. So instead of dwelling in the sadness, they focus on staying positive and have an attitude of “fake it until you make it”, which jives with me. Their chorus reads:
Let’s go take a walk downtown
And act like we’re the heroes that
We dreamed we’d be when we were young
We can be the giants in the streets we learn to drive in And we’ll ride away into the sun
While we’re waiting for Jesus, or awaiting communion, or awaiting ourselves, let’s take a pause and pray the prayer that you need to pray. Go have a conversation with God and I’ll call us back in a minute or two.