17 April 2014

Maundy Thursday

“This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood, shed for you,” and a few days later, after he’s beaten and killed and buried and raised from the dead,  his disciples finally recognize him, after a long walk and longer conversation, in the breaking of the bread.

And so we come, to hear those words and eat little pieces of bread or pita or wafers that get stuck in the teeth. We drink sweet wine or sweeter grape juice out of little plastic cups or big silver chalices, given us by a man or maybe a woman, in long robes or a suit and tie or dress or khakis or maybe jeans and a T-shirt, as we kneel down at the altar or sit in pews or gather around a campfire or whisper in someone’s living room so as not to attract attention from authorities.

We are his body, his hands and feet, his arms and legs, with Christ as the head, says Paul. His body, broken and bloody, blood pouring down, not a shiny gold cross necklace, but blood and guts and tears and sacrifice. We are his body now.
And so we come, scrubbed and shiny, in our Sunday best, but inwardly broken and bleeding, confused and faithless, bitter and angry and lost and searching.
Some say the bread and wine is “just” a symbol, as if symbols have less power, are less real. Some believe a  mystery—that these things of earth transform into things of heaven. Some wait for a special occasion, like tonight, like once a quarter or once a month, and the eating and drinking is set apart, special, holy, and unusual. Some need it more often,  once or more a week, plus tonight and tomorrow and again on Sunday, and the eating and drinking is intrinsic, necessary, holy, and usual.
We walk, we skip, we hobble. We make our way to the place where bread and drink are handed out. We crush the body between our teeth and swallow down blood as if it’s our last true drink. We hope the broken pieces will make us whole.
But his body was broken, and our bodies are broken, and the Body of Christ is broken. Broken, and blessed, and handed out to all comers. And all seek to be blessed, but few seek to be broken. Except One.
And so we come, again and again, dragging ourselves, step by step, burden by burden, sin by sin, with barely enough awareness of the Presence to kneel and open our mouths like baby birds, and accept the gift of bread and wine, of flesh and blood.
We will fail again, we will sin again, we will strive or not, we will be faithful or not. But the Broken One is faithful to every last one of his broken creatures, every last petty or selfish or evil or longing heart.

And so he comes, in the breaking of the bread, and stops, and waits for us to recognize him.


Sarah said...

Your insight is startling to me. And the way you make your messages so inclusive is a true gift. Thank you for sharing this vision God has blessed you with with the rest of us.

Jennifer said...

Thanks, Sarah!