I grew up never knowing who I might sit by for Thanksgiving lunch. The table was open for anyone we knew of who had no other table to sit at. Often this meant friends of my dad or brother who needed a place to land.
We all need landing places in the hearts of others…in our own time.
When I married a pastor in love with the Lord’s Supper, I began to take it more frequently on holidays, in a warm home, passing the cup round the family table, the heavenly bread going deep down.
There is just something about a table and some bread that can bring us all together. The daily sustenance becoming our common ground. Yeah, Christ knew what He was doing, sitting at that table, lifting the bread, uniting the brothers in the most basic of foods turned miraculous.
“My body, broken for you.”
You – a plural pronoun here. The restoration of us – to God and one another. The table invites the most broken because He was broken for all. We check our hearts, not the heart of the other.
My husband, he says to cup your hands as if to receive. Because you can’t earn this kind of love gift. You come open, empty-handed. We are all empty-handed at the cross. No economics here.
Sara Miles, she claimed “the bread, at the core of Christianity could speak to people whose doctrines ostensibly divided them.” She would know. The crumbly bread touched her atheist lips for the first time and Jesus happened.
“I still can’t explain my first communion. It made no sense. I was in tears and physically unbalanced: I felt as if I had just stepped off a curb or been knocked over, painlessly, from behind. The disconnect between what I thought was happening – the piece of bread was the ‘body of Christ,’ a patently untrue or at best metaphorical statement; and what I knew was happening – God, named ‘Christ’ or ‘Jesus” was real, and in my mouth- utterly short-circuited my ability to do anything but cry.”
This realness we feast on can destroy boundaries we don’t even see. And those we do. Even the boundary of the deepest doubt.
Much like the prayer we’ve voiced for centuries. Monks in soft whispers walk to their rooms at evening time, carrying the words tenderly. Families of cancer patients bond over the pain and these few words, waiting, waiting for some kind of news.
Just about the whole world round knows the words of the only real teaching model Christ every provided. He didn’t teach how to preach or disciple or build mega-churches.
Only this…………….”After this manner therefore, pray ye…”
By coming into the family of God, we enter fellowship one with another. We get the whole package. The in-laws and outlaws and every cousin in between. Yeah, every family is a little quirky.
Family. What if we really felt that way…that way about every child of God? That feeling you get when you walk in your own front door and know you are home. Disagreement doesn’t change the family name. You keep coming home to each other.
Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Then Ann, she comes alongside that statement and says, “the world needs us to belong to each other.”
Yeah, a lot – SO MANY people today feel like they don’t belong. Or that we think they don’t. People in Ferguson and across the street where you and I live. People in my own circles. And sometimes, we have decided who belongs and who really doesn’t.
A girl asked me recently how to know if someone will ever really love her.
We want to be loved. To be liked. We need to belong.
We were made for community.
When Shane Claiborne addresses the question, “Is it Okay for Christians to be Rich?“, he notes the importance of the wording “our daily bread.” He references the early Christian church when he writes,
“Until everyone could eat, no one would eat. In fact, it was the ethic of the early Christians that no one has a right to more than they need while others have less. Vincent de Paul demonstrates this ethic well when he suggests that when we give food to the hungry, our posture should be to get on our knees and ask forgiveness, for we are only returning what is rightfully theirs. ”
The idea of unity did not originate with man. The most beautiful manifestation of community is found in the Trinity, and it is through the Trinity that the church is being unified. We forget that. We forget that the best ideas really are not ours. We forget the strength is not really in our committee meetings or the wit and wisdom of our words.
The Spirit is doing what He has done since the days of that early church: empowering and teaching and guiding us into a unity in Christ that seems (in my spirit) to look much different than man can construct.
On the other side of Unity is a joy we have yet to know and feel and live inside.
I had a dream recently. From Him. In it, the peace and joy I felt as I walked towards Him created this space in which I knew with complete assurance that all things were being made right. It’s what changes cities and restores families and gives us the courage to forgive – the peace and love of God, revealed through His Spirit….touching our deepest places.
I have another dream in my own spirit as I’ve listened and read His Word. Dreams form hopes and when voiced, hope ———> it just might spread.
I dream of a day when…
All evangelism meetings involve every church in the community – because the gospel is central and kingdom soul winning trumps church roll membership.
When vision is city-wide instead of church-wide.
When denominations hold hands across the states in prayer walks through the city.
When churches share the cost of a tent for medical care in town and offer free hair cuts just to love people – no agenda, no flyer to visit “my” church.
When every city offers communion in the public square for all people of every race and creed and class in the hopes of just one soul believing afresh at the moment the bread touches the lips.
When churches are actually less frequented because the members are crowding the parks and laundry mats and yes, bars to seek and save the lost. Yeah, I know a guy who led so many men in a bar to Christ that he caused the bar to shut down.
When gathering as a whole town or city to worship on Christmas Eve by candlelight isn’t just a Hallmark movie. When we find the time to be together, invest together and serve together in the midst of our mess.
When church services never get to the program, because there are too many healings taking place.
When time stops (or we choose to let it) and Fire from heaven determines our Sunday and Monday and Wednesday schedule.
When children are seen and heard and given voice to lead us in worship.
When every building of faith holds a picture of heaven – every nation, every race, every language – and we finally know what beauty is.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
Oh Spirit, we surrender to your love. May we walk or faint, march or kneel to your orders. May your dew fall upon Mount Zion and run all over your people. Your oil, oh Spirit, brings life. We look expectantly for the unity of the body to the glory of Jesus, who is the Christ. May we be one as YOU are one. In agreement with the prayer of our Lord, Amen.