My Two Cents
July 10, 2022, 8:00 AM


Zackary was standing in the gathering, right there by the front door. He was waiting patiently, well, as patiently as a 9-year-old boy can be expected to wait, while I finished up a conversation with someone as they were leaving the building. It was around 12:15 on a Sunday. Our worship service had wrapped up a few minutes beforehand. And people were making their way out the door and on to their way to the pool.

“Say the words”, Zackary said.

“Say the what?”, I responded, not sure exactly what he had said. I was in my “greet people at the church door and try to be present for everyone” mode (ask a minister about it). But I couldn’t quite figure out what Zackary meant by his question, or maybe command.

“Say the words”. My mind was spinning, trying to find a place to land.

That was when Zackary, who was carrying what he had made in Transformers class in one hand, pulled the other one from behind his back. Turns out he was holding one of those communion sets that have become ubiquitous since the beginning of the pandemic.

He carefully put down his project so he could grab his communion with both hands. Then he tore the top off the bread container and said it one more time.

“Say the words.”

Of course. And so, there at the door of the church as people passed by us on their way to the Grilled Cheese Factory, I got down on a knee and said to a very serious Zackary, “On the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread and broke it…”

Then he turned the kit over.

“And after they had eaten, Jesus took the cup…”

There it was. Communion for Zackary at the front door of the church. Turns out he had gone back into the sanctuary after the service was over to grab the communion kit. Zackary was old enough to be baptized the Sunday before, but still young enough to leave worship for the children’s program. But he didn’t want to miss communion. And he wasn’t going to take it until I said the words.

I think that most clergy will admit to wondering how important “the words” are. We talk so much and in so many ways and venues. We might wonder, how or if people are really listening. We issue invitations that don’t get a response. We write prayers that may or may not be what people listen to during the prayer time. We preach and wonder how much of what we say lands.

“Preach the Gospel often. Use words only when necessary” is a phrase attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. But two weeks ago, I was reminded that the words matter. And a child was my teacher. Going forward I can only hope that the words continue to matter to Zackary and to all of us, who are invited to the table.

“All of this is given to you.”