When I was 6 years old I had a Star Wars coloring book
And say what you will about Episode I, that thing was off the hook!
Mom said I could bring it to church when we got ready to go
So I stuffed it under my arm with my crayons and a Ziploc fulla’ Cheerios.
Sit through class and be a good boy
Cuz this happened every week, wasn’t something I could avoid
But boy oh boy
It was worth it.
Cuz if I passed the test and my parents thought I deserved it
I’d get those black and white pages
To occupy my brain with
During this thing called the sermon.
And that was for grown ups, I didn’t have to listen
But then someone would pray and I’d see a glisten
Of silver coming off some trays
While old men in ties walked my way
Down every aisle
Walking single file
Passing the plates on any given Sunday.
And that’s not fair, why do the moms and dads get a snack?
While I’m just stuck with Cheerios (I know it’s good for my cholesterol) but I don’t care about that!
They get to break a cracker of a size they get to choose
And then chase it down with *mwah* the finest grape juice.
“Mom, Dad, I want some!” “No, son
“This is for people who are baptized, who are Christians.”
But the words were all fuzzy and they sure didn’t stick.
All I knew was I wanted that Sunday morning Happy Meal and one day I would get it.
When I was 13 years old, I’d finally earned a seat
In the youth group section: a place of prestige.
I didn’t color anymore, drawing was more my speed
But I’d put it aside when I saw a familiar scene.
Guys in ties would wait with plates
So close your eyes and someone would pray
And then guys in ties would walk in a line
And I’d peel my eyes for how many times
The cracker would pass without being eaten
Or someone wouldn’t take the juice, much less drink it.
And when it came to me, I’d take it all like it was nothin’
And smile smugly inside, cuz let me tell you somethin’:
I was baptized when I was 12, before all my friends
And everyone knows that made me better than them.
I wasn’t the only one watching the other teens
I could see the same misplaced pride that infected me.
It was no fault of our own, I think we just heard the wrong message
That turned the most holy meal into a pubescent rite of passage.
Cuz on a scout trip one time, we took open communion
My dad passed me the plate, I said “what are you doin’?”
“Dad… I’m not a Christian.”
And he said it’s ok and later he’d explain
I think that’s when I understood that I misunderstood this name game.
Cuz if I’m not a Christian, then I don’t belong in the church
And if I’m in the church and not a Christian, then what am I worth?
But if I can take that meal, I’ll tell you what that’ll do
That’s two rounds of reassurance for everyone to view.
Round one: break the cracker, drink the juice in round two
So my peers and I could say “I belong here as much as you.”
Back when church was about having something to prove.
Now I’m nearly 20 years old with nothing to prove
Except a point that I’m desperately tryna get to you.
Cuz I believe in my heart that stories are important
And everybody’s waiting for a chance to outpour ‘em.
So if mine can make you think for even a moment
In a different way, then I have chosen
To believe that makes a difference.
We’re coming to the table not to get a snack
Or to prove our worth or anything like that.
He said eat and remember
And do this together
So there’s no question in our minds as to whether
God’s workin’ in his people on the Earth that he made
That we snatched from his grasp when we took from the snake
Then pled for our lives, said we made a mistake
It’s too late for the garden, but he wanted to save
His one true love who’d broken his heart
But in order to do that, he had to give a part
It was shared and it was broken.
And the words that were spoken
Proclaimed: they don’t know what they do!
And we don’t, but let me propose to you
That we know why.
Why we get up early and give our kids coloring books
Why we form friends to give not prideful, but welcoming looks.
So once every week the trays come single file,
But let me tell you one day we’re gonna look down that aisle
And see our Groom and he’ll smile
At his Bride that’s waited for this day for so long
And we’ll all step together and that step will be strong.
Because the best part of all is we carry each other
So when you pass the plate, look at your sisters and brothers
Because a wedding day’s coming with sunny bright weather
But until then we stay faithful to what he asked us:
To eat and remember
And do this together.
(Also, a video of me reciting this poem for my church family)