Trinity Church, Bangalore, India radically changed my relationship with the Eucharist and my understanding of how the sacrament truly defines the Church. Trinity Church is an Anglican Church built by the British in the mid 1800’s. I was in India on a business trip and was lucky enough to have Sunday off. The entire service was in Tamil, a southern Indian language that is absolutely beautiful. Because it was an Anglican service, and I’m a Methodist, I was able to keep up with the order of worship. Several of the hymns sung that day were familiar as well, so I sang along in English to “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “Just as I am.” In fact, we sang “Just as I am” as we took Communion. I never realized how perfect that song is for Communion!
As we began Communion, I joined the long line of individual Christians moving toward the altar to receive the sacraments. Standing barefoot in that line I saw the Church in a way I had never seen her before. I saw individuals become a community as we moved together to the altar to receive Communion. I saw God’s people accept Christ’s body and blood individually, but from a common loaf and a common cup. I saw individuals rise from the altar rail and go into the world communally, as the body of Christ, to serve and to love.
Before, when I took Communion, I focused on my sins and seeking God’s forgiveness while forgiving those I perceived had sinned against me. Forgiveness and restoration of relationship are still very much a part of my Communion experience, but what happened in India added a new dimension. I have a deeper understanding of Christ’s call for the Church to be a community of love through the beauty and power of this Holy Mystery.