This is the week when i have the privilege of visiting several people who are part of the congregation but no longer able to be part of the gathering on Sundays. I visit a lady who is very alert, but chair bound, a household in which confusion is the order of the day, and a residential care settlement in which I visit somebody whose hearing is so fragile that we communicate entirely by me writing and her speaking - slow but effective.
To take bread and wine and the story of the Supper regularly into these contexts has taught me a lot. For our member who is chair bound, it is a time when she is brought into contact with the wider church across time and space, and into an encounter with the depth of Being; in the household of confusion, the familiar words, prayers and actions bring moments of calmness into a place that is often marked by anxiety, and a reminder that physical presence is not a requirement to be part of a community. In the care home, we share lots of silence and the promise that even when eating or drinking anything is not possible (as is the case in this situation) still, the words, the actions and the taste of wine is the presence that opens up the promise.
Baptists often have an inarticulate but deep theology of Communion; we know what we don't believe, (some of us), but what we actually do believe - other than that this matters - is sometimes very hard to put into words. I have tried in various places to write theologies of the Supper, but it always escapes me. But what I do know - and discover more and more as I am allowed the privilege of sharing bread and wine in all sorts of places - is that somewhere in the heart of this, unsayable, perhaps, but there nonetheless, is encounter, assurance, peace, hope, joy and blessing.
I am grateful for so many contexts and opportunities in which I am invited to share people's lives; it is one of the unmissable privileges of ministry. And as the time goes on, I recognise the sharing of bread and wine as the crowning privilege.
So, thank you to this congregation for giving me this gift,