You Smell Like Grape Juice

“For I received from the Lord that which I also pass on to you . . . ” (1 Cor. 11:23a)

While we were living in Indianapolis, I served as part of the finance committee at the church where Deb and I had our membership. It was a larger, growing congregation with several new members, and so at our first meeting we needed time to get acquainted.

As a way of getting to know one another, we asked the question: Why did you choose this church? It was not a question about why we visited or what attracted us to the church. Instead, we each had the chance to say why we stayed.

I talked about friends that I already had in the congregation before I moved to Indianapolis, and being able to play in the worship band provided fellowship and let me share my musical gifts. Another person talked about the thought provoking sermons that the minister gave. When the time came for one woman to speak, she said, “Because you all smell like grape juice.”

We smiled at her response, and she went on to explain. She had been raised in the Disciples of Christ. Our practice of gathering each Sunday at the Lord’s Table was a deep and abiding part of her identity. She was a military spouse and had lived all around the world, had worshipped in many different communities of faith. Yet the church felt most like home when it smelled like grape juice, when the community that she was part of shared that meal as part of worship.

Whenever I visit a Disciples church, I take note of the table where that congregation gathers to share the Lord’s Supper. Each table is different, but its prominent placement indicates the importance of the meal. The Apostle Paul sensed that importance as well, because he reminds the church in Corinth about the sharing of Christ as part of his criticism of the way that the Corinthian Christians shared, or didn’t share, the sacred meal.

When we come together for the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of grace freely given and freely received, and we are reminded that God’s grace is not limited to us. We share communion with Christians around the world and throughout history. At the Table, we remember that in Christ we are never alone. We are many different congregations, but we are one church.

May God’s blessings continue to be upon you and your congregation as you share the Lord’s Supper this Sunday and every Sunday.

Dean Phelps


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