The Practices that Form Us

This summer, we’ve spent a great deal of time thinking and talking about the sacraments of baptism and communion. Taking communion every Sunday is a regular part of worship at Refuge. Hence, it seemed apt to spend time considering why we pour water on people’s heads and eat this small snack as our time together comes to a close. Other practices, like eating a meal together, praying our common prayer, and passing the peace, are also central our worship.

We participate in these practices every Sunday. Whether we realize it or not, these practices are forming us. It’s easy to recognize how communion, for example, forms our children. At Refuge, even our youngest children are welcome at the table. From the moment they can chew, they eat the bread with us. They eagerly await the piece each week, with excitement and anticipation painted on their faces. And yet, most of our children are young enough that they don’t know why communion matters or what the significance is in taking the body of our Lord. Still, by eating this bread together, they are acting out their faith. Their practice precedes their faith or belief.

When Jesus calls the disciples in Matthew 4:18-22, he strangely gets them on board with only one phrase, “Follow me.” Peter, James, and John didn’t have to sign on the dotted line, recite a creed, or profess their belief that Jesus was the Messiah. He made no requirement that they believe “x, y, and z” before they could be his disciples. Instead, his only requirement of them was that they follow him. Do what I do. Practice what I practice. Eat with these people. Go where I go.

Our practices do form us. God is forming us as we pass the peace, share dinner, pray our common prayer, baptize people, and take communion. We live out our faith through these bodily actions. Faith or belief is not separate from our bodies. When we struggle, experience doubt, or don’t have faith, we continue to practice our faith by taking the bread and wine, leaning on the faith of the community.

It’s normal, mundane, and ordinary thing to take bread from a shared loaf every Sunday. But in doing so, we make radical claims about who God is. At this table, there is abundance, not scarcity. At this table, all are welcome, no one is excluded. At this table, we remember that we are never alone, but part of the body of Christ. At this table, all social barriers are broken down. At this table, Christ is living, dwelling, among us.

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