One of my favorite parts about distributing the Holy Eucharist is looking at people’s hands as I hand them the bread and wine. They are so beautiful! Our hands tell stories about who we are in all our beautiful diversity. At the communion rail, I see hands representing every shade of skin; baby hands that are new and small and chubby; elderly hands that are thin and wrinkled after a long life; hands that are calloused and worn; hands that are smooth and manicured; hands that are seemingly whole; hands that are missing digits or carrying significant scars; hands that I know have held and caressed and worked and struggled and prayed. The diversity of our hands as we hold them out to receive communion is an absolutely beautiful sight!
We use our hands to do so many things in our lives and when we come to communion, we hold out those same hands in expectation of receiving in them the body and blood of Christ. There is something wonderful about that continuity. When we come to the altar rail, we bring all of ourselves – the loving parts, the angry parts, the tired parts, the excited parts, the known parts, and the secret parts. And for just a moment, all of ourselves is represented in our outstretched hands as we participate in one of the great mysteries of our faith. We trust Jesus to meet us in the Eucharist and we hold out our hands to receive him.
As we move into this final week of Lent, may we also reflect on Jesus’s own hands. His hands blessed, healed, held children, touched the “unclean,” ate with social outcasts, broke bread, and poured wine. Those same hands were eventually nailed to the cross. We bring all of ourselves when we hold out our hands to receive the Eucharist, and Jesus brought all of himself when he stretched out his arms on the cross. Over the next few weeks, I encourage you to reflect on these images of hands – both Jesus’s and our own – and marvel at the work that God has done.
The Reverend Amanda C. Stephenson, Associate Rector