Sarah Kehrberg’s childhood memories of communion paralleled my own (“Communion: simpler than we make it,” March 3). My parents explained to me that only adults participated and that it would be years before I would be ready to join the congregation. From then on, when I witnessed communion, I felt anticipation: One day, I would be a part of this.
Communion happened twice a year. Every member was expected to prepare conscientiously. I don’t know how seriously everyone took this, but I do remember hushed post-communion conversations: “Did you notice that so-and-so did not partake? I wonder what’s going on there.” Sometimes such comments had a gossipy tone, a judgmentalism that was not healthy. But even that could be mixed with genuine concern. And refusing to partake — or even staying home — was a silent but still public act.
Some might read this as evidence that I grew up in a conservative congregation. But, in my memory, First Mennonite Church of Reedley, Calif., contained widely different approaches to faith, touching the poles of heartfelt evangelism, biblical literalism and intellectual inquiry. It was rich in that sense, but not conflict-free. Still, for at least a few minutes twice a year, it was one body. These memories of communion leave me with a sense of awe for which I still ache. Kehrberg’s approach to communion sounds inclusive, expansive and biblical. It opens space for more spontaneity and joy in remembrance of the Last Supper.
James Lichti, San Francisco