I was sat on the stage that Sunday, basket of bread in my hands, ready to give out this symbol of Christ’s body to all who came forward.
As I held it out for them to see, for them to take, I was overwhelmed by the notion that THIS is what we are called to do. To hold out Jesus to all we meet, for them to see, for them to taste, and for them to take hold of. To hold out his death, his resurrection, and his life, to offer it freely.
As I spoke of Christ’s body broken to all who came forward I wondered how well I do the same in my daily life? Is Christ in me as visible as that basket of bread to all I meet? Is His life in me, is his grace in me, is his healing in me, as apparent and as obvious to those I speak to, to those I interact with as a basket of bread? Surely if should be, for to me He is more essential than bread.
Some who had never been to the house of God on a communion service before may have been confused by that basket of bread, by that glass of wine. It was so visible to them, and clearly it was special, surely it held significance. Just as they may have had questions about those physical things, so too people who encounter Jesus in me may not know what it is they are seeing, hearing, experiencing, but whether they know who it is, do they know that there is something else there, can they see there is something, someone bigger than I in me? Can they see Christ the hope of glory in me? Can they see the redeemer, healer, lover, helper, in me?
Is my life a basket of bread and a cup of wine on display for all to see? For all to be pointed to Christ, for them to encounter Jesus and meet him personally?
I pray we can all more visibly show Jesus to everyone we encounter.
Sunday Evening, serving communion. I sat there, basket of bread in my hands, and as I did, a totally unexpected thing occurred. I felt challenged to use each persons name as they came forward, granted I don’t know everyone’s names, but as far as I was able, I did. As I spoke those familiar words, or a variation on them “The body of Christ broken for you,________” I heard God reply each time, “My body is broken for you Emilie, so you could be made whole” Every time.
I fought back the tears, and took a deep breath before I served the next person, and the next, and the next, knowing those piercing words, those full-of-love words, would come straight back at me. Him, God almighty, Creator of the universe, King of kings, Ruler of all, broken, for me. Broken so I can be whole. Broken so I don’t need to be.
Yet I choose to be, I choose to run, to hide, to seek solace in other things, I choose to remain broken. I fling his gift back in his face. I say “Thank you very much, but no thanks, I’ll do it my way.” I thank him with my lips, and then hammer in the nails with my actions.
Still He chose, chose to break, to go through searing pain physically, and a ripping of his heart emotionally. Knowing it was me causing all that, He chose. Chose to be broken so I could know wholeness, so that my brokenness would be healed.
And He stands there, holding it out, asking me to take this precious gift, waiting for me. And I look at him, holding it out, and oh I am so tempted, it does look good, this wholeness, and his arms, they look so loving, and his face it looks so safe.
I am so tempted, but as I begin to reach forward I think surely not. This can’t be for me, you can’t hold out this gift so readily for me, for me, the girl who tramples all over grace, who happily picks up that dagger to split open your side, who sat at the foot of the tree, mocking, while you hung there. Surely this isn’t for me.
Yet his hands are still there, arms wide open, ready to embrace me, ready to give me this wholeness that he paid for with his broken body, and his shed blood. I reach out again, about ready to fall into his arms.
Reaching out for this wholeness comes at a price. To accept this gift means admitting that I am broken, that I am hurting. It means giving over my pain. I look at those arms and I shake my head, “I can’t, I can’t give it to you. To give it to you means taking it out of me, I can’t take out this hurt, I can’t open this carefully locked, sealed, box and drag it out for you. I’m scared.” But I look at those hands and I see pools of tears in them. He speaks back “I know, which is why I’m not asking you to do that. Just let me hold you, come sit with me, accept my healing and I’ll do the rest, just rest in me and let me.”
I look into those trustworthy eyes, that safe lap, those loving arms, I look knowing He’d go to crazy lengths to soothe my pain, to hold me close. I melt. “I need you Jesus, so much.” I know it’s the only way, so I fall into His arms “I’m scared, but I want this so bad, and I don’t know how you could love me so much to break for me, but I want all it won for me. Won’t you take my pain, my failures, my weaknesses and make me whole? Please?”
The line has come to an end and I turn to face the other server, we serve each other. He holds out the bread for me “Jesus’ body broken for you Emilie” I hesitate for a moment. Can I? Can I accept this gift? Can I eat knowing that if not today, or tomorrow, then one day so very soon I will spit it out, I will trample on that broken, bleeding body? Trying to do it my way, ignoring the gift laid out for me thinking another route is better. But how can I reject such an act of love? I hear him whisper to my heart once more, “My grace is enough, Emilie”. So I take, I eat, I drink. I fall into his safe loving arms, confessing I am broken, I am hurting, I am weak, I fall oh so much. Confessing, but knowing He broke and bled for all that, He bought grace, He bought healing, He bought forgiveness, He won a victory for me. And He’s holding out all his bought and all he won for me to take.
Once again I am undone by the Gracious King, my saviour, who I can call Friend.
I walk in late, and slide into the front row to the one remaining seat and there I see it. A table set for communion, covered in the usual thin muslin cloth. My gaze is fixed, caught on the sight. Tears stream.
Today I don’t see my saviour on that table. Today I see my friends on that table. And I weep for them. I see their blood shed, their bodies broken, their flesh ripped so brutally apart. I see their love, their love of a saviour, so deep that they would die for Him. Beautiful, tragic, love. I am ashamed, but I also see betrayal. Betrayal of a saviour who did not save, and the betrayal cuts deep. I almost choke as my emotions hit me, and I sit down, tears flowing freely. I look away, away from that table of betrayal.
Something brings me to look back upon those small cups filled with red juice, and those baskets containing broken bread. I see the pain and suffering of those dear to me, but then I see something more. I see His pain, and His suffering, His sacrifice… for
me. I see that love, the love of a saviour, so deep, that He would die for me. But I see more, I see my betrayal, the betrayal of one so loved yet so eager to turn away, my betrayal which caused that body to break, that blood to flow. My own betrayal for which I can never pay back. I am disgusted by my own rebellion, so overwhelmed by my inability to make things right. I quickly shift my eyes.
But He’s not done yet, and I hear him whispering to my heart,
“But it’s ok, I still love you, THAT deeply. It was for your betrayal that I became broken, that my blood was shed, that my body was pulled apart. I know your humanness, and that is why this gift of my life, is free. That’s why I’m giving you grace.”
And so I see, this table is a table of betrayal. Not of His, but of mine. It is because of my betrayal this table is necessary. Yet He loves me still, and he loves me so deeply He would hang from that tree.
His grace undoes me once more, and my tears tell the story.