Several months ago, during services at Scott Boulevard, I assisted in serving communion for the first time. Let me tell you, not a lot of things bring me more joy, make me feel more alive and close to God than the feel of a grape-juice filled chalice gently cradled by my hands, thankful for the moment, yet knowingly undeserving of such a holy encounter. That holy moment made me think about how surreal it feels at times for me to be a real minister, in a real congregation.

Looking back, I guess it makes sense. Growing up as a missionary kid and a preacher’s daughter, I never really had a shot at “normal.” While our same-aged friends played hide and seek or Barbies and action figures, my sister and I played “church.” I knew I was cut out to be a minister somewhere around age seven or eight (though I resisted the idea until my mid 20’s).

The day I realized I was destined to be a minister was the day we held a revival service. I don’t know what possessed us to do that. Perhaps our everyday “playing church” wasn’t going to be enough this time. But that day, we gathered for the worship of God in the bathroom, the bathtub marking the front of our makeshift sanctuary. All our stuffed animals came: Fuzzy Bear and Teddy, Froggy and Mouse, Puffalump, GlowWorm, and all of their friends. I didn’t preach that day, my sister, Jojo, did and I was the song leader. We began with “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” went straight into “Praise the Lord Ye Heavens Adore Him,” and then concluded our praise medley with “Praise to the Lord the Almighty.”

Jojo preached a wonderful sermon. I don’t remember a word she said, but I remember the “feel” of her message. Resplendent with power, saturated with truth, dripping with evangelistic swag as her passionate voice traveled a sea of dynamic delivery, her volume reached thunderous heights and then trailed off into valley-like whispers. She concluded with a poignant invitation, and as she offered it, she turned to the front of the “baptistery” and turned on the faucet.

As the water flowed freely forth, I invited the congregation to “please come, won’t you come, as we stand and sing this song of invitation.” Just as we got to verse three of “Just as I Am,” Bama, our beloved Boxer, came forward! We sang the remaining verses, while Jojo further encouraged others in the congregation to come and “join this soul who has come.” And then we baptized Bama and dried her off.

Next we said the prayer for communion. Never before had saltines and grape juice been handled with such reverence and care. We celebrated as a community: stuffed animals and live, humans and dog under the watch of a playful, imaginative, loving God.

Over the years, the sharing of bread and juice has become even more meaningful to me, and these days, as I anticipate with excitement my future as a minister at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, I embrace this new opportunity as a treasure with gratitude, awe, and just a little intimidation. I am trying on new ministry wings.

In my role at Scott Boulevard, I serve with our congregation in taking ministry to their elderly home bound, and together we are turning our mission focus on this underserved demographic in our society. One of the components of this ministry will be the sharing of communion. I will go into homes, along with teams from Scott Boulevard. We will sing hymns, hear a word of encouragement, and share communion. Bread and grape juice will be handled with reverence and care, and a diverse community of faith, gathered in a makeshift home sanctuary will celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ together, bound in heart by the love of Christ, under the watch and care of a creative, holy and faithful God.

 Sara Robb is associate pastor of ministry with aging at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia. She blogs regularly at sarainrealife.