My recent big birthday celebrations lasted nearly a week, and mostly involved food. All were shared with family and friends, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner-and a few cocktails. I loved it! Food is central to our lives. Even though it is getting harder to find the time to do it, sitting round a table with family and friends offers the opportunity to listen, laugh, learn and share life.

A meal is central to our life at St Mary with St Alban. Every week we share bread and wine, and remember the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Holy Communion reminds us that it is about coming together as guests, not observers, at the Lord’s Table. Sometimes we call it The Eucharist, which means Thanksgiving, and this prompts us to give thanks for all that God has given us in Christ. It links us to the very first Christians who would break bread together in their homes.

Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I first received Holy Communion at the age of 7. Since then, it has been part of my life, an important part of my worship, reminding me constantly of what Jesus has done.

But, to be honest, there have been times when I have not thought about it as much as I should. There have been times when I have almost taken it for granted and gone through the motions. Yet I know that I can never fully understand what is happening, because the mystery of the Eucharist takes us to a place where words alone are not enough.

That is why I am glad that, this autumn, we are going to think about Holy Communion. Earlier this year, the PCC agreed to ask the Bishop to allow us to admit baptised children to Holy Communion. In order to explore what it means for children to receive the Eucharist, children and their families are therefore invited to three sessions at St Mary with St Albans:

Part 1 11.30am-12.30pm on 2 October
Part 2 9.30-11.30am on 15 October
Part 3  9.30-11.30am on 5 November

Please contact for further details.

As well as our Pilgrim Courses, there is an Adult Learning morning on The Eucharist in Six Objects on Saturday 1 October at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is a ticketed event, costing £10, so booking is required. Tickets are available here.

Big birthdays come rarely (thank goodness!), but we spend time and effort to celebrate them. The celebration of Holy Communion happens frequently, and we need to prepare for it each time. So this autumn as a congregation we have the chance to:

“Draw near with faith. Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ which he gave for you, and his blood which he shed for you. Eat and drink in remembrance that he died for you and feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.”

And we will be able to do it as all ages together, gathered around the table of our Lord.

Mary Hawes