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What Young People Want from the Church - Emily Echols

Celebrating Communion

For nearly a year, all I wanted was for the chaplain serving me Communion to believe it was a sacrament and to invoke the Holy Spirit.

My husband is an Army chaplain, and we attend a chapel service on post. United Methodists, whether we receive Communion weekly or monthly, always consider the Eucharist a sacrament. Maybe that's why it was the No. 1 thing I missed about not being in a United Methodist church after my husband became an active-duty Army chaplain.

Overall, I appreciate the ecumenism of the Army. For the Easter sunrise service, we sang the Easter hymns everyone knows. We recited the Apostles' Creed and prayed The Lord's Prayer. We read Scripture, and the word was proclaimed. We did all the things that matter, all the things that bring us together, all the things that identify us. Except celebrate Communion. It felt like a gaping hole in the service because, for me, a sacramental understanding of Communion is essential to my understanding of who Christ is, who the church is and who I am. I love Communion with the same enthusiasm as my 3-year-old son, who runs up to the altar after the service asking, "Is there more bread?"

When we attend services without Communion, the look of disappointment on my son's face speaks volumes. Even he knows that Communion is important. Everyone who currently attends the Protestant liturgical service on post is in their 20s or early 30s. We all have growing young families. With my husband as the lead pastor, we celebrate weekly Communion. Week after week, we approach the table in wonder that, no matter what our weeks looked like, we are offered yet more bread.

Emily Echols, 31, is a writer and stay-at-home mom who worships with the Protestant Liturgical Service, Fort Polk, Louisiana.

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