While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Kaisa’s house was dark, save for the dim light of a few candles. Her mother was in the kitchen pulling out a roasted lamb from the oven. A door lying on the ground in the center of their living room replaced their usual coffee table. Pillows for seats surrounded the makeshift dinner setting. This was not your usual Easter party. No cutlery. No fancy china. Bodies moved in shadows from kitchen to living room, carrying food platters as a feast grew; rice, lamb, figs, bread, oil and wine.
This was a traditional Passover meal. And every year before Easter Sunday, for as long as Kaisa could remember, her family gathered to reflect on the Last Supper in this way. They sat on the floor. They read Scripture. They said grace. They ate with their hands. Holy and hungry, they broke the bread and drank the cup.
Like many pastors’ families, Kaisa’s usually included a stranger or three at their holiday table: college friends without the means to go home, people new to the community–most of them lonely misfits who’d found safety in the walls of a house with an open door policy. That Easter was no different.
As they all gathered around the table, Kaisa’s mother walked them through the Passover ceremony. She spoke of those weary disciples and of the centuries of silence every exiled Israelite spent waiting for a Messiah. The years of hope that would follow the day of Jesus’ death. The room grew quiet as the Easter story hung in the air. Kaisa looked around the table and smiled, her hands covered in grease and gratitude.
However, it was a unique Last Supper for Kaisa, because even though she was breaking Passover bread with her family, she had stopped taking communion inside the church for two years.
It would be a long journey back to the table.
“I grew up in the church. My worldview as a child was that there was no better place than inside the building where my dad preached every Sunday. The tension came as I grew older. At 16, I didn’t realize I was seeking church as an accurate representation of and substitution for God himself.”
Kaisa was still attending church during her communion sabbatical. She mostly operated on autopilot when she was there. Worship. Announcements. Sermon. Worship. But then came the response. The pastor would invite the congregation to partake in communion. Kaisa was unmoved. The procession of bodies would fall in line toward the ushers holding their grape juice and day old bread. But not her. It was a time of avoided glances and earnest prayer.
“I didn’t understand, so I stopped taking communion. But I still kept going to church. It turns out not participating is very awkward when you’re a leader at your Christian college. Or you’re the pastor’s daughter. You feel the tension.”
Kaisa was tired and questioning. She carried the heaviness of outsiderness like weights in her chest. From farm-town central Washington to the pristine Kirkland suburbs, loneliness followed her. She was used to church, but she struggled to truly belong.
“I think it’s normal for Christians to go to college and question everything about their faith,” she explained. “I was exhausted with feeling lonely in places that boasted community. I met countless Christians who felt this way, every Sunday. And we were all taking communion together, but it didn’t change that overwhelming isolation.”
She wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions: “What’s the point of church routines if they don’t change the way we see people? If you still feel burnt out and hopeless on Sundays?”
So for a year, Kaisa sat in the back of church. She read the four Gospels over and over again. She walked through doubt in the presence of trusted friends and family. “In my searching, I kept coming back to that visual of the Passover table, where Judas had the seat of honor next to Jesus. Is this what a community of believers should look and feel like?”
It made sense that Kaisa’s moment of returning to communion would happen on Good Friday, the precursor to Easter Sunday. All that time spent immersing herself in the stories of those twelve disciples in their most desperate hour drew connections to her own life.
Take and eat; this is my body.
Kaisa found solace sitting at the Passover table; a partaker in the unlikeliness of Jesus’ core followers, committing themselves not only to Christ but to each other.
Drink from it, all of you.
Where was this place, where tax collectors and fishermen, zealots and pacifists, could feast in their mutual brokenness before a man they called Savior? What of their initial bloodthirst and doubt that somehow turned into worship?
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus brought them all into the fold and toward the cross. He was the connecting point; a hope worth belonging to.
“You belong,” Kaisa reflected. “You may not feel like it at times, but at the Last Supper, Jesus picked hard people to be around and didn’t leave. He sought reconciliation. Hope is that after all was said and done–when the disciples deserted Him–Jesus still ate fish with Peter. Those men all betrayed Him on different fronts, but Jesus is faithful.”
More than any amount of personal and systemic hurt caused by the church, Kaisa reads the Passover story with new eyes; grounded in Jesus’ radical grace. She has a seat at the communion table. Even when it doesn’t feel that way. Even when she doesn’t deserve it.
“Deciding to be a Christian is deciding to stay. Taking time off from communion taught me a deeper kind of faithfulness. When I decided to start taking communion again, it was me learning to declare that Jesus is enough and I’m not.”
Worship filled the small theater as bodies moved into the aisles. Walking toward the communion ushers, Kaisa headed up the line. She made her way back to her seat, hands cupped to catch the grape juice dripping from her humble piece of bread. She ate it, soggy and stale. But communion had never tasted so sweet. Her voice lifted with the crowd as they sang an old hymn.
And on this Sunday night, she heard it clearly.
Come. Come to the table.