SOWING SEEDS OF FAITH: Clown communion

Christmas has passed. We lit our candles, opened our gifts and celebrated the birth of Jesus. Because of the threat of COVID-19 many of us had to learn new ways to celebrate. But now, it’s time to polish off the leftovers, pack up the decorations, put away the nativity sets, toss the Christmas cards and store or throw away our tree. Advent and Christmas are over. 

As a football announcer is famous for saying: “Not so fast!” 

Shortly after birth, Jesus was dedicated in the temple. A devout man named Simeon approached and took Jesus to bless him: “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations!” (Luke 2:30-32) Then Simeon warns Mary and Joseph: “This boy is destined for the falling and rising of many but there will be opposition and ultimately a sword will pierce your soul.” 

In other words, there will be much grief ahead. A grief we know will come from Jesus’ crucifixion.

Years ago, I invited two friends to visit our church on Christmas Eve and share “Clown Communion.” That night during the service, two clowns entered the sanctuary, much to the surprise of everyone. Why would two clowns come to a church at such a sacred moment? They entered to the song: “Lamb of God.” 

“Oh, Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God. I love the Holy Lamb of God. Oh, wash me in His precious blood. My Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.”

The clowns carried together a large gift box and set it on the table ordinarily used for serving communion. There was a tag on the box that said, “From God” on one side and “To You” on the other. 

They opened the box and took out items, clapping their hands in excitement. There was a nativity set, followed by the cup and plate used for communion. Then, a loaf of French bread with a white cloth. There was a moment of confusion at first, but then one clown wrapped the cloth around the bread and began to gently hold it as if it was a newborn baby. They then paraded around proudly displaying their child.

The first verse of Lamb of God: “Your only Son no sin to hide. But You have sent Him from Your side. To walk upon this guilty sod and to become the Lamb of God.”

Then, one clown reached in the box and pulled out a cross, a crown of thorns and a large nail. They looked at each other in confusion. One clown held the cross, the crown of thorns and nail and sadly realized what they were for and motioned for the baby, the loaf of bread. At first, the clown shook her head, “No!” and began to cry. Then slowly and sadly, she handed the child/bread to the other clown.

The second verse: “Your gift of love they crucified. They laughed and scorned Him as he died. The humble King they named a fraud and sacrificed the Lamb of God.”

Carefully the clown set the bread on the cross and placed the crown of thorns. Then she picked up the nail, plunging it into the bread, breaking it in half and displaying the broken pieces to the shocked congregation, most of whom were openly crying.

Many of those in church that night felt they had never been more moved. The emotion and true meaning of what Simeon told Mary became clear. “A sword will pierce your very soul.”

The Christmas story is only the beginning. It is always pointing us toward the rest of the story: his life, teachings, ministry, death, and resurrection. 

Jesus did not come to earth just to be celebrated and remembered as a baby lying in a manger. He came with a mission that includes teaching, crucifixion and death but would ultimately end in resurrection and the promise of new life. We respond knowing we are a part of that mission as God’s church.  

Larry Davies is pastor of Mineral United Methodist and Mt. Pleasant Methodist churches in Louisa County.

For Comments and Questions: LarryDavies@PrayWithYou.org

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