They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and prayer. They ate together with glad and sincere hearts. - Acts 2:42, 46
Two deacons intensely disliked each other. Everybody dreaded deacons' meetings because of the way those two went at it. Even the church's behavioral covenant didn't stop them. It was bad.
Now, that church had weekly Communion, and it was the deacons' job to serve the congregation. This they did in pairs, according to a predetermined schedule. It was also customary that when each pair finished serving people at their station, they turned and served each other.
The two warring deacons were never paired up on the schedule. The head deacon worried that partnering them would lead to fireworks. But one Sunday morning during Communion, she had an epiphany. That afternoon she made a new schedule, assigning the enemies to each other. For six months.
They were shocked and unhappy, but they bit their tongues and went along. Thus it was that every week they turned to each other and said, "The body of Christ, given for you." Every week, "The cup of blessing poured out for you." Every week for months, "Amen."
I'd like to say they became good friends. They didn't. Communion isn't magic. Still, you can't offer Mercy to an enemy every week and not start to mean it, even a little. You can't put Healing in someone's hand for months on end without something rubbing off.
Something did. Their disagreements felt less wounding. Occasionally they'd defer to each other. And when the six months ended and they got new partners, they seemed to some of us to be a bit bereft.
Rub off on us, O Christ of wine and bread, a residue of reconciliation on lips and hands and hearts.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.