In which I set up a feast

Part 1 of my communion stories here


These days, I look forward as much as I look back.

I look back to the Cross, to the Last Supper, to the millions that came before me, and I’m oriented to my place in the bigger story, the words are worn soft by so many speakers. But some little part of my soul is looking forward, I can see the lights of a city on a hill growing bright, and it makes me want to fling open the doors, the Bridegroom is coming, can’t you feel that? I want to say, the tears are pricking, my heart is beating, something is happening here, Someone is happening here.

So, I’d like to set up a banquet table in the woods, or maybe in my front street, maybe back on the downtown Eastside surrounded by social housing and shelters, it doesn’t really matter. Maybe it would be a big farmhouse table knocked together by my carpenter husband, he’d love to do it, I know. I’d gather metal lawn chairs and tree stumps, throw down picnic blankets and ratty old quilts.

I’d put stubs of candles into tin cans, string paper lanterns from the trees, trace a few prayer circles out of river stones, stuff wildflowers and dandelions into mason jars. You can wear what you want, no white dresses required, bring your friends.

In fact, I’d stand in the field, in the streets, banging on pots and pans, maybe singing off-key, calling every one out. It would be nice if you brought enough to share, or were at least willing to share your small bit, but you don’t have to, if you can’t, well, that’s okay with us.

I’ve learned that He is enough, so I’m not worried.  I’d like us all to sit down together, to pray, to talk, to sit in silence, to read Scripture, speak over again the centuries of blessings, go for a walk in the words, maybe a swim, laugh until our sides ache. I’d like to pour wine or grape juice into that never-used wedding crystal goblet you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

We could feed each other, with real food, none of that lame cracker stuff. No, we’ll eat yeasty bread, tomatoes, strawberries, sweet and sour and salty, until we are full. Receive it, celebrate it, take it, receive it, turn around and feed each other.

And I would tell you that this, this feast, this food, this wine, the light in the trees, the wonder, these gorgeous flawed people, this gathering, this world, it’s the body broken for you, and the blood spilled out, and we are all remembering that, the best we can, most days, and He, He is with us always, even to the end of the age.

  • Jenn

    yes please. It was a hard night….your words are always a feast for my broken soul.

  • Preston Yancey

    Sarah Bessey, if I could choose a handful of people that represent the good and certain hope of our Faith in this age, you are certainly in the midst of that group. How I love and am stretched up into the fullness of your flowing heart.

    Wine or grape juice, indeed. I attended a service once where the Eucharist was perfectly divided. To the left wine, to the right grape juice, as people were comfortable. Glory, this. In our woodlend church. In our Church. I wrote a long time ago, somewhere, about my ideal church being just like this. Curse geography that does not let me reach forward, hug you, bless you, make the sign of the cross on your forehead and sing the Gloria with you.

    My heart is so full, I don’t know where to pour it out.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Grace, Preston, I’m thankful for your words.

  • Carrie Pazdziora

    I would be there.

  • Diana Trautwein

    Now this is a picture I don’t want to lose. Thank you for it.

  • Ashleigh Baker

    You know I’ll be there. <3

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    In reading this and absorbing the beautiful word picture you’ve painted, I’m saddened to realize I don’t look forward enough…

  • Laura Werezak

    Let’s do it!

    Have you heard of Kinfolk Magazine?  The one with all the beautiful, arty-smarty 30 somethings eating together?  Your homey picture of hospitality makes theirs look like a sad, perfectionist parody of what community ought to be.  I’m so blessed by this picture of feast, and inspired to make something happen… even if it will never look like Kinfolk.

    • Sarah Bessey

      I never have heard of Kinfolk – sounds interesting. I’ll check it out.

  • HopefulLeigh

    That last sentence pierces me and gives me hope. What a glorious picture you’ve painted!

  • Olivia Mawhinney

    I will come armed with a pot and pan to call them in. This idea is so wildly beautiful. Let’s do it. 

  • Kamille

    this is my heart, but I think you know that.  Our how he is redeeming our tables right here, right now and we all get to gather around the Redeemed Table to feast.  It’s what brings me light in the darkness.

  • Megan (FriedOkra)

    Beautiful.  I’d add fireflies to the ambiance and fresh peaches with honey to the meal.   xo

  • Annie |

    My Mom used to call us in for dinner with a triangle bell, and we would scramble to find our shoes, come running from the woods or the apple orchard or the cornfield a few lots down. And on New Year’s, we really did bang pots and pans on the front porch; I still don’t know if this was normal fare, or just my wonderfully wacky family. So much of what you wrote here brought me right back to those long barefoot summer days – vases of dandelions and all, and to those late night celebrating in the icy air pots and pan moments. 

    And I grew up in a church plant turned, eventually, mega-church, and celebrated communion in a spiritually “on fire” campus during college, and now choose between the juice line and the wine line each Sunday at a beautifully quirky, liturgical church that’s graced our town for a few centuries. And there has, really, been grace in it all, and all of these things you’ve written here make my longing heart homesick. Thank you, Sarah.

  • Amy Laurens

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. 

  • bekka

    Both your communion stories have touched my heart.  Recently, I got to share communion with my daughter for the first time.  It’s one of the more magical moments where it became more than just a crumb of bread and a sip of grape juice.  Your words really resonate, Sarah.  Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart.

  • Rachel Heath

    I love that this banquet is happening in our daily lives. This is how it was meant to be. This sharing of food and gathering as we are and offering whatever we have and feeding one another is life, as it should be, lived together. I love that, as you said, “the words are worn soft by so many speakers,” that we are another generation in a long legacy of life shared in Christ, that we are part of something so ancient, sacred, and vibrantly alive. What a beautiful picture you’ve painted.

  • KatherineH

    Oh yes, yes, a thousand times yes.  I definitely want to be THERE.  In fact, I’m willing to come for a practice run.  (Just so happens I have a ticket booked from Oz to Canada already…).  Think I’ll use this beautiful piece of writing next time we have communion at housechurch.  You are an inspiration on so many levels Sarah. 

  • KatherineH

    Oh yes, yes, a thousand times yes.  I definitely want to be THERE.  In fact, I’m willing to come for a practice run.  (Just so happens I have a ticket booked from Oz to Canada already…).  Think I’ll use this beautiful piece of writing next time we have communion at housechurch.  You are an inspiration on so many levels Sarah. 

  • To Think Is To Create

    ::nodding:: folding up some quilts and tucking the wine bottle under my arm and then we’ll be on our way there…

  • Emily Theresa Wierenga

    i would love to come, and partake in this feast with you.

  • HeatherKopp_SoberBoots

    Sarah, this is so beautiful. I have been thinking a lot about being hungry for art and for mystery and your words about communion remind me that this another way God feeds me. Your blog often does that for me, too–gives me a taste of something strange and wonderful that transcends the every day world. Thank you. Really. 

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  • Beth


  • Handsfull

    Oh Sarah… you have the gift.
    Your words are so evocative… I can’t wait to read your books!