Remembering Who I Am and To Whom I Belong
by Pastor David Hoffman
I first received Holy Communion at Trinity Lutheran Church, Alta, Iowa and it was immediately after I had been confirmed (8th grade because confirmation was required before receiving communion). I knelt at the rail—in this congregation of my maternal grandparents and my parents—and for the first time received the Eucharist. In the chancel area was the font where I was baptized…I probably did not fully understand that confirmation was indeed “affirmation of baptism.”
Linda Larsen was my confirmation classmate and she received communion at Trinity which was the church home for her maternal grandparents and parents. She was also baptized at the font in the chancel. Decades before, Linda’s mother attended my parents wedding! My maternal grandmother was a Sunday School teacher for Linda’s mother!
It was a festive day confirmation and first communion! We had waited so long and the church was packed with smiling faces. It was the tradition at Trinity to only have Communion twice a year—Maundy Thursday and Trinity Sunday.
When we began our careers, we started worshiping in congregations that celebrated communion more frequently. While I was in the seminary, I was shocked to learn that Martin Luther expected communion to be served at each service! As I began my career in ministry, one of my goals in each parish, was to increase the frequency of communion.
Why? Who can turn down this gift Christ brings to us? And, each time I receive the sacrament, it helps me to remember whose I am—to whom I belong.
On September 17, 1966 Linda Larsen and I were married, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Alta, Iowa, the “home” church for both of our families where they now celebrate communion several times a year. This past summer, we worshiped at Trinity and were nourished with “body and blood, given and shed…”
During Lent 2011, we are encouraging the St. Philip the Deacon community to reflect on the Sacrament of Holy Communion — recalling early memories, describing memorable celebrations of Communion, or reflecting on how Communion informs daily life. This post is part of that series. We invite your reflections about Communion, as well. If you would like to submit something for this series, please send it to Pastor Cheryl Mathison at email@example.com.
I, too, had my first Communion the day I was confirmed and remember being so thrilled and so full of the Holy Ghost (as the Holy Spirit was then called). I also remember my faithful parents grousing a bit over having Communion more than a couple times a year.
It is a strange paradox that sermons of the day were more fire and brimstone, but we had Confession and Communion less often, where today we hear very little fire and brimstone but have Confession and Communion quite often. I like the latter better!