During this continuing pandemic, worship in many places has included the use of Communion Kits. These prefilled communion cups hold in individually wrapped spaces a swallow of grape juice topped with a wafer.
My reaction to their use has included grudging acceptance of their necessity in COVID times, and nagging displeasure about these substitutes for the sacramental elements of bread and wine. I have cringed at the scritching sound of worshipers removing the plastic from the wafer and the plastic cup. (The plastic equivalent of pop-tops on beer cans?) I have wondered where these non-recyclable plastic containers end up. I’ve thought about why they’re called “kits”—like ecclesiastical Lunchables®, perhaps? And I’ve yearned for a time-yet-to-come, when we’ll return to the ancient traditions of Eucharistic elements.
Lately, those emotions have been joined by other, perhaps more-appreciative thoughts about these spiritual survival rations.
It may be good that these ecclesiastical *MRE’s are available as we battle our way out of despair and anguish. During these dangerous times, we have to make do—and we’re glad that these alternatives are available. The communion kits humble us away from any arrogance about worship-as-usual. The symbols or words on the plastic wrapping remind us about God’s grace. Each of us receives the same amount of forgiveness embodied in the kits, and we partake of their contents in unison. Like kits assembled from individual parts to make a unified whole, the people of God congregate as a cohesive force for good in God’s world. The small sips and nibbles make us hungry for a greater meal: the lavish love of God in Christ Jesus, and the forgiveness we so desperately need.
Next Sunday I’ll still cringe, wonder and yearn as the plastic meets my hands and lips. But I will also thank God for these small stand-ins for the Holy Meals that will surely return!
*MRE’s are Meals Ready-to-Eat, nutritious emergency fare for troops on a battlefield. Communion kits may not be a complete meal, but they nourish us spiritually nonetheless.