The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Applesauce communion

God's hospitality stretches beyond our understanding

It wasn't an unusual request. Could a pastor visit a parishioner's ailing mother in a nearby nursing home?

The daughter warned that mom might be a bit ornery. "Mom might mumble that she doesn't want you there," she said. "But she's not completely aware of her surroundings. She was a faithful churchgoer, and deep down in her heart I know she would like it."

Ready for the challenge, I took my Bible and communion kit to share Jesus' body and blood with someone who didn't necessarily want it. "Well," I thought, "it wouldn't be the first time."

michael d. watsonWhen I mentioned where I was going to our staff parish nurse, she pointed out that the mom might not be able to swallow the host. Would I be amenable to crushing up the bread and mixing it with applesauce so she could swallow it without gagging?

I had never heard of mixing the body of Christ with applesauce. But I liked the idea of someone being able to share in the Lord's supper — even if it stretched my idea of communion.

Martin Luther said none of us (even scholars and theologians) can fully understand how Christ becomes present in the bread and the wine. Lutherans offer communion instruction classes, like the one our congregation recently held for five youth and their parents. We talk about the "promise, presence and mystery" of Christ being somehow miraculously "in, with and under" the elements of communion. And if called upon to do so, we add a little applesauce to the bread.

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March issue

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All are welcome