My Grandson, My Brother

Cadence, Lala, Papa Rich. April, 2012

Cadence Gets Communion
“If you confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, we invite you to come forward and partake.” It’s Good Friday and my heart floods with gratitude. Our pastor’s familiar words push the overflow out through my eyes. Blinking back tears, floating on reverence, I rise beside my husband, ready to—

“Lala!” Our five-year-old grandson, Cadence, tugs at my hand, anxious. “What do I do?” He’s visiting from Hawaii. He’s been to church with us before, lots of times, but never for communion.

“Did you understand what Pastor said?” Cadence’s eyes widen. He shakes his head.

“If you count on Jesus, if you trust Jesus, then you can take communion.”

“Oh, I count on Jesus, Lala. I do!” He jumps up and follows me down the aisle of our church.

Pastor Robert stands before the pulpit, offering us bits of matzo and tiny cups of juice. Cadence watches closely as I take one piece of cracker and one cup of juice, then serves himself as Pastor bends low so he can reach the elements. Papa Rich follows behind him.

We return to our seats and Cadence pops the matzo into his mouth. “Not yet!” I exclaim in my church whisper. He looks up at me, stricken.

I break my cracker—symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for my sin—in two and share it with my grandson.

“On the night Jesus was betrayed,” Pastor Robert says, “Jesus took the bread and broke it, saying, ‘This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” We all eat our dry morsels in unison. I shiver, imagining nails piercing flesh.

“On the night Jesus was betrayed,” Pastor says, “Jesus took the cup and he blessed it. ‘This is my blood, poured out for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” We raise the juice to our lips.

I watch my grandson drink. 

My heart tap-dances as I press details into my heart’s memory, like a treasured flower tucked between the leaves of a heavy novel. It was just growing dark outside, I might tell him, someday, the first time you took communion. I don’t know if you really understood yet, but it was Good Friday . . .


“Lala,” Cadence says, “Last night at church, we drank blood!” He giggles, but I see confusion in his eyes.

I’m standing in my robe at the toaster, willing it to hurry. We’re off to meet my sister and her family for breakfast, but they live over an hour away and we’re due there in 45 minutes. Still, he’ll need something in his tummy to tide him over.

I don’t have time to discuss theology. How can it be that today I am so occupied by our schedule that I won’t even steal time to discuss something that brought me such joy only hours earlier?

I am one fickle follower. 

“We drank a symbol of blood,” I say. “I’ll bring the Bible and read you the story in the car.” My husband, Rich, grabs the children’s Bible from the bookshelf beside the toy chest.

As he eases our car onto the freeway, I read:

“`My blood will wash away all of your sins. And you’ll be clean on the inside—in your hearts. So whenever you eat and drink, remember,’ Jesus said, “`I’ve rescued you!’” (Page 292, The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones. Zondervan, 2007.)

“Hey!” Cadence yells. “We did that at church last night!” 

He gets it —at least the basics. I pause, cringing, remembering the nails.

And I wonder: This saving mystery: do I understand, any more than he does? 

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:54 (NASB)