October 2, 2022
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
A myna and a saffron finch got interested in human religion. What can I say? People who pray are fascinating. They perched outside churches on Sundays and they listened to the things people were saying and sometimes they even chirped along with the music.
They found communion a bit difficult to understand.
“I was at one church,” said the myna, “and at one point during worship everybody got up from their seats, stood in line to come up to the front, and ate a cookie.”
“A cookie?” said the saffron finch. “That sounds rather nice. I saw people taking pieces from a loaf of bread and dipping it in a cup. When it came out it was purple. Then they ate it.”
“Soggy bread?” asked the myna. “The cookie sounds better. But come to think of it, I’ve seen people dip little wafer cookies in a cup, too.”
“Sometimes the one up front drinks from a big cup,” observed the saffron finch.
“And sometimes everybody gets little cups,” said the myna.
“At this one church in Hilo,” said the saffron finch, “everybody gets a little baggie with a cup of juice and a square of something soft.”
“Bread?” asked the myna.
“We could hope it’s candy,” said the saffron finch.
“But what does it all mean?” asked the myna, and they thought about it.
“They’re sharing in a meal,” said the saffron finch slowly.
“It’s a pretty small one, for humans,” observed the myna.
“And they do have something to drink, and it’s pretty nearly always purple,” said the saffron finch, “and they do it together, even if they have to line up for it.”
“They always look like they’re prayerful, too,” said the myna, “as if God is right there in the bread and the cup.”
“They say that, too,” said the saffron finch. “This is the body of Christ, they say.”
“Perhaps,” said the myna, “this is a part of worship where they take in the blessings.”
“Perhaps,” said the saffron finch, “this is a part of worship where they stop talking to be nourished by God.”
I have to say that for two birds watching from outside, they did pretty well. Communion is when we remember Jesus’ gift to us in a way he told us to do: remembering his body in the bread, and remembering his blood in the cup. Communion is when we literally take those blessings inside ourselves by eating and drinking bread and wine (I’m afraid the myna was wrong about the cookies). Communion is when we Christians stop talking for a moment and let ourselves be filled by God.
by Eric Anderson
Watch the Recorded Story
I tell these stories in worship from memory of this manuscript – and between my memory and my affection for improvisation, things change.
Photo of a myna by Eric Anderson.