How Graham Crackers Led Me to Jesus

Like many people, I’ve been pondering the recent furor over the Honey Maid commercial featuring families in their myriad forms. I’ve been thinking of those sweet family moments played out on screen. And, as I contemplate both the ad and the public’s reaction to it, I’ve been reflecting not on my personal reaction to what is really a lovely and effective television commercial, but to the unusual role this company and their products have played in my life.

First Communion

First Communion

It all started with me seated at a table in the church nursery, blissfully dunking my graham crackers in my orange juice. That sacred meal, the breaking of the bread and the building of community for wee ones, taught me lessons that have stayed with me for over fifty years.

  • The breaking of bread is always sacred, no matter what form it takes. Whether we gather around the tiny tables in the nursery for crackers and juice, around tables in the fellowship hall for a potluck or around the communion table in the sanctuary, we gather as children of God, people of the Spirit, followers of the Christ. And we gather as community…
  • In that community there is beauty, grace and love. In times of joy, in times of loss, we gather to rejoice together or to share in one another’s grief.
  • When those Sunday School teachers whipped out the paste, rounded-tip scissors and old, broken crayons for our projects, and when my grandparents’ friend Otto smuggled lifesavers into worship because he saw that I was at my wiggly worst and needed a diversion, I learned that I had value. I learned that all of us, young, old, rich, poor, wherever we come from, whoever we are, we belonged in that place of grace because God welcomes all. Even children who think they need to march in place during the singing of “Onward Christian Soldiers” because, you know, it’s about soldiers.
  • As we gather, there are other songs to be sung. Some remain a mystery to the children who attempt to sing along, but others have meaning for even the youngest singer. “Jesus loves me, this I know.” I knew it to be true. There was never a moment of doubt in my mind.
  • Jesus loved me. So did the One who sent him. I knew it because all those wise people in my church told me so. I knew it because they believed it, deep in the core of their being. I knew it because they lived it. And, as I watched and learned, I learned about holy people and sacred space.

About a decade after my nursery years, I stood with the rest of my youth group in a chapel on a campground in central Montana. With our parents and the other members of our church elsewhere on the grounds, we were having a sacred moment of our own. The time came for us to share in communion. We’re Disciples. Where two or more are gathered, we have communion. But, no one had brought the Welch’s or the bread. So, our youth leaders had raided the kitchen and brought the next best thing. Our sacred moment was blessed with orange juice and graham crackers. And, in that moment, in that space, I’m pretty sure I saw Jesus standing with us.

I still dunk my graham crackers in my orange juice. And, each time I do, I remember. I remember church. I remember who I am. And always, always, I remember the One I follow.

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