Present in Communion

by Alice Stephenson

A soup kitchen for distressed weavers, 1861 from The Illustrated London News.

As we approach the beginning of a new year, it is not uncommon to reflect on the year that has been – our celebrations, achievements, regrets, losses. Many of us have welcomed new members to our families; others may have had to say goodbye to loved ones. New chapters; final pages. It is a time to take stock of the world and wonder what is in store for us.

It is also a time to consider making new year’s resolutions – as if somehow this year we are going to keep them. Many people live their lives dwelling on the past and worrying about the future, so caught up with what has been and what may never be that they fail to see the present clearly.


We can learn from the past, and plan for the future, but ultimately, life is lived in the present.

As the great Colonel Sherman T. Potter from the MASH 4077th once said, ‘If you ain’t where you’re at, you’re nowhere.’ If you are too busy looking back and wondering how and if you will ever get to where you want to be, you will never see the joy of life that is right in front of you.

We celebrate communion as a time to remember Jesus, his death, and resurrection. The emblems before us represent his body and his blood. Each of us will associate with this event in different ways: it is a very personal event but one which we share together. As each of us takes the biscuit and the grape juice, we will be thinking of different things – of what has transpired this past week, of what may be before us, of what may be affecting those we care about, of actions we are ashamed of, of words we wish we had said. Yet in this variation and difference, there is constancy that we can depend on – the never-failing love, grace and compassion of God. No matter the circumstance in which we find ourselves, we can be assured that God is with us in every moment.

Choose to live in the present; stand up for the downtrodden; speak out for those who don't have a voice; feed the hungry; give the stranger a home; respect those around you; and show love and compassion to each person you meet, knowing that the power and the grace of God is with you, today and every day.

Alice attended her first church service at Croydon Church of Christ when she was seven days old and spent her formative years there. She has been a member at Blackwood Church of Christ since 1992.