Tag Archives: communion

Life Lessons from Dance: Tradition

Growing up as the daughter of a dance teacher has taught me so much more that just shuffles and plies. I’ve learned balance, focus, manners, perseverance. I’ve learned the importance of thank yous, the extra mile, and tradition. I’ve learned to accept critiques and to take orders.
It’s time to start chronicling some of these lessons.

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Some families always watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. Some always play pick-up football on Thanksgiving, and some always shoot off fireworks outside of town on July 4th. My family? Our traditions revolve around the annual dance recital.

Friday lunch is always at Rosa’s. The senior teachers always put down tape. Backstage snacks always include Cokes and brownie bites. Saturday lunch is always from Home Plate. Seniors always get flowers from their dad onstage. Old DG family always comes onstage after the evening recital. And we always try (and fail) to watch the original Star Wars movies the next Sunday. It’s tradition.

One of the most hallowed DG recital traditions is The Purple Trunk. Anything important goes in The Purple Trunk: my mom’s shoes, tape for the stage, the first aid kit, safety pins, caution tape. If it’s really important (music or technical sheets), it’s in The Gold Folder in The Purple Trunk. I don’t think we can do the recital without The Trunk.

Well, two years ago, the hallowed Purple Trunk was abandoned at the stage. Some member of our crew didn’t quite understand how special this thing is. It was left up there, crying and alone, mourning its separation from its family.
We mourned for about a year. My mom searched high and low at every store for another Purple Trunk, but none could be found. Finally, recital time approached again, and we had to decide what to do.

Instead of abandoning the tradition and throwing the rightful occupants of the Purple Trunk somewhere else, we improvised. I sat in the floor of my mom’s office with a new blue trunk, purple duct tape, and stick-on letters. That trunk now has (beautiful) purple accents and a sign on its top. It reads, “PURPLE TRUNK.” It is now The Purple Trunk, by fiat.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye declares that the people of Anatevka keep their balance with one simple word: Tradition.
(Now you have that song stuck in your head. You’re welcome.) Our family traditions of The Purple Trunk and Muppet Christmas Carol connect this year to the one before it, allowing us to remain strong as a family. Cultural traditions of celebrating Christmas and Easter connect our generation to the dozens proceeding it. For the first followers of Jesus, the tradition of the Lord’s Supper served to connect all Christians together as one body, and set them apart from those around them who did not celebrate the bread and wine.

So, one of the many life lessons I’ve learned from dance is the importance of tradition in connecting the present to the past. As G.K. Chesterton writes, “All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.” I will value the meaningful traditions that I carry on, join in, or start myself for the rest of my life.

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Sweetly Broken

Wednesday was not my day.

It started when I left the library at 12:30am, stumped by how to parametrize a sphere cut by a cylinder.
After class, the sphere stumped me again, this time in the form of two concentric conducting spheres. Frustrated at myself not being able to finish, I called Greg for dinner and church. I explained my spherical difficulties, and he responded with Chesterton, saying that leaving the spheres behind for praise and communion was putting the Cross above the Ball. I laughed.

And then I backed into concrete rebar. In my newly fixed car.
And then I was too flustered to watch Greg as he gave me directions on how to get out.
Sigh.

We eventually made it to church, and I organized my team.
I’ve been looking forward to Praise and Communion: a place of quietness, peace, Love, worship, and communion with friends and Saints.

Once my team had, with some success, distributed communion to the congregation, I climbed the dark stairs to the sound and light guys. And the door banged really loudly behind me. And then on the way down I tripped on the stairs and spilled the communion plate.
Sigh.

I finally slipped back in to the service: tired, shaky, empty, embarrassed that I hadn’t orchestrated communion serving quite smoothly, and ashamed of spilling communion.
I sat there with my mind unable to hold together a worded prayer as the rest of the congregation sang around me.

The strong voices of Greg on my left and Kyle on my right rang out, “I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.”

If I weren’t so tired I might have laughed. “Sweetly broken.” That’s me. Broken because I am an imperfect vessel, willfully disobedient, easily stressed. I can neither solve spheres nor drive a car nor follow guidance nor navigate stairs.

“Sweet.”
How sweet it is to see my brokenness and realize that there, in my hands, I held the symbols of my salvation. The body of my soul’s Love was broken and His blood flowed to mend my brokenness. He knew that I would come to Him broken and sinful–not a perfect friend, girlfriend, mathematician, or servant. The whole point of communion is that I cannot come to Him with everything together!

Then we began to sing.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

I didn’t leave Praise and Communion with a feeling of elation or that all was right with the world. I still didn’t have the energy for the four more hours of homework, and I still know that I am broken and I will fail again. I left simply with the reminder that He is God, the God who came down because I was broken.

Wednesday was not my day. It was His.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

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Communion

This week, I got to hang out with my collection of various relatives that I call my “small kinfolk.” It’s way too complicated to trace how we’re actually related. The two six-year-olds and the two-year-old think I am one of the coolest almost-grown-ups they’ve ever met, and the 7-week-old tolerates me, which I can accept.
So, on Christmas Eve, since each one grabbed one of my hands and pulled me down the pew (and because I bask in their attention), I sat between the six-year-olds Evie and Abbi. Between each verse of the service’s carols and after each sentence of the readings I got to inspect a new drawing or new spelling of my name. I also ended up covered in Abbi’s glitter since she sat in my lap. (Side note: the degree to which one is covered in glitter by a small child is an objective measure of how much fun one had.)
At some point, the outer rows of the church started to make their way to the front for communion. Since Abbi’s parents did not attend service and are not Christians, I realized the should-the-six-year-old-take-communion question was up to me for that evening.
I bent my head around the glittery child I held in my arms.
“Abbi, have you ever taken communion before?”
“I don’t think so.”
Thinking communion was a big word, I asked, “The piece of bread and the little cup of juice?”
“Oh yeah, I think I have.”
“Do you know why we take it?”
Silence.

Oh goodness, I think, how do I condense 2,000 years of tradition and various debates about Communion into a minute-long explanation to a kindergartener during a church service?

“Well, Abbi, we eat the bread and drink the juice because Jesus asked us to. Every time we take Communion, Jesus wants us to remember what He did for us. Jesus died for us so–”
” –so we wouldn’t have to die and we can go with Him to Heaven.”

I smiled. “Exactly.”

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. – Luke 22:19-20

Who cares if you understand trans- and con-substantiation, symbolism, communion/eucharist/Lord’s Supper, or wine vs. grape juice? Since Abbi understood what Jesus’ death meant for her, whether or not she understood exactly what death is, she understood Jesus’ point in instituting Communion. He asks us to break bread and drink juice in remembrance of Him.
And so I took my small kinfolk down and held her hands out for bread and juice.

Thank you, Jesus, for your gift. Ευχαριστω.

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Praise and Communion

Praise and Communion.
It is a service filled with praise and with communion (who knew?) that first drew me to my church and has now returned.

I stand awkwardly with my team at the front of the chapel. We hold on to the bread and juice with ever shakier hands as Kyle explains what communion is and why we take it.
As he talks, I stare at this group of college kids. I know so many of these faces.
I see people from my H. Phys class. I see people with whom I have walked the streets of New York. I see people with whom I have prayed in Connection Group. I see people from the Special Events team. I see freshmen and graduate students. I see fashion merchandising majors and aspiring engineers. I see people who are angry, people who are depressed, people who are joyful, people who are exhausted, and people who are perky.
And all of us are here because Jesus broke his body and shed his precious blood for us. For us! All of the descriptors that the word “us” includes, He loved us. Loves us.

When I get to my seat, I thank Him. The wafer crunches in my mouth as His body was crushed. The juice floods my mouth and rushes down my throat the same way His blood washes over all my sins.
Thank you, Jesus.

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