As custom was, communion was observed in church once a month. When the church central to the district had several “out-churches” under its care, the service usually circulated among each of those churches to give everyone a chance to partake. At least once a year it was held in the central district church and served as a “gathering together” time.
When we were in Mwanza, responsible for Mission administrative matters, the African church leadership asked me to oversee a church area about 50 miles away. The pastor in charge was very sick and needed help. I was glad to be of help. Besides preaching regularly at the central church, I was able to visit most of those “out-churches”, mainly holding communion services when I was there.
During the time of real shortages of supplies in Tanzania, I baked the communion flatbread that was to be used. It was a plain dough mixture, rolled flat and baked. Lines were scored on it before baking to make it easier to break into pieces before it was served.
Anyway, it worked out real well the first Communion Sunday it was used. Because I had baked a goodly supply, it was decided to store it and use it the next month when it would be needed. The church elders took charge and made sure it was available for the next time.
The “next time” was in a fairly large church; cement floor, wooden benches, thick cement brick wall construction and a corrugated tin roof. The rafters “re-echoed” with the joyful singing as we started the service.
Time now for Communion – the “serving of the elements”. All was hushed as the bread was passed – and held pending the serving of all. When the elders had finished serving and had come back up to the Communion table, after a few words, all were told to “eat”.
My, the sound! – a loud crunching sound that echoed off the tin roof. The previous hush was now a cacophony of stages of chewing. During the interval between its first use and now, a month later, the home-baked Communion bread had dried out and was “as hard as tacks”!
In spite of everything, all went well. But I learned that each month, just before Communion Sunday, I had to bake fresh flatbread if other provision was not available.
Live and Learn – but the experience of our Lord’s presence in spite of difficulties gives encouragement always.