So I was in the park playing disc golf with a friend from church when another player showed me his leg.
Don’t worry, it’s not like that.
What it is like is being eight baskets into a nine basket round of disc golf with a couple of guys we had just met. You do that kind of thing in disc golf: play with people you don’t know. We were talking faith and life, addiction and discipleship. I didn’t even start the conversation down that track. And one of the guys we were playing with pulled up his pant leg to show me something. There it was, koinonia–communion–tattooed right on his calf in Greek. It was even accented properly.
Now, I’m not big on tattoos, but if you’re going to get a tattoo, koinonia is not a bad option. It’s the ancient New Testament word for “communion,” the word used to describe the fellowship of believers, but also the bread broken and shared in Jesus’ name at his table (see Acts 2:42 and 1 Corinthians 10:16). One flows from the other. The communion meal gives birth to the communion of believers. This is the true basis for all relationships and cooperation and work and fellowship within the church: the life of Christ broken open and poured out at Christ’s table. We all too often confuse this deep and steadfast communion originating in Christ with passing friendliness or structural relationships or ties of blood. But all of these forms of communion pale in comparison to the communion wrought at the Lord’s table.
This sort of communion turns up in surprising places, though its origin is always the same. Communion pops up in church and in friendships, in marriages and neighborhoods and in mission shared across continents. It turns up, of all places, on the disc golf course. But the living Christ is always its beating heart.
When Christ authors this sudden communion among us, we have to see it and treasure it and pay attention to what’s going on. Because the reality is that communion is never truly sudden, and the fact that we were having a conversation mingling frisbee jargon with theological ponderings says something about the ways that Jesus brings his people together across time and space. If you’ve spent any time following Jesus, you’ll know what I’m talking about. He brings people together at just the right time and at just the right place. I’m not good enough to speak disc golf’s native tongue (He birdied on a hyzer on a 328.) But I know the language of communion when I hear it. My ears perk up. I recognize Jesus working his relational magic, and I try to play my part.
Which is what I did on that Sunday afternoon. I adjusted my invisible pastor’s hat and blessed this man who had come to Moundridge to complete addiction treatment at our local facility. Strength and healing to you in the name of Jesus.
“When I tell them back at the facility, they’re going to wish they had come too!” he said. I felt like I had just gotten to participate in a minor miracle.
There it was: a little epiphany snatch of communion–more going on than any of us had expected. What can you say to that? Thanks be to God.