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Remembering Christ

Remembering Christ

"After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Luke 22:17-19

I read once that communion is the most complete form of prayer available to us: it involves the whole person, body, mind and soul. If that’s true, then I am not nearly as good at praying as I think I am, because communion is always uncomfortable for me, even nerve-wracking sometimes.

For one thing, I can never settle on what mood I should be in. I want to take it seriously, and yet I feel like I ought also to be joyful — after all, isn’t communion a celebration of God’s grace? Then there are the servers. I feel rude not looking them in the eye, and yet if I do I feel defenseless. I am afraid they might be able to look down to the very bottom of my soul, exposed by those awful words they say: "The body of Christ, broken for you."

"The blood of Christ, shed for you."

For me? Blood? What kind of God do I believe in, who offers me His body and his blood to chew and swallow?

Because, you see, I still don’t really believe it. Most of the time I don’t REALLY believe that I am lost, that what I have done — no, who I am — makes necessary the bloody and brutal murder of an innocent man. For me. I don’t believe it because I am so deeply twisted that I have lost the ability even to see my own emptiness. And I am afraid to believe it because I can’t imagine a love like that. And because, in all honesty, I don’t truly understand how a mangled figure hanging on a cross has the power to save my life. It’s too earthy, too close, too real. Too alive — flesh-and-blood love; Jesus, the carpenter.

I don’t understand it, and it scares me. It makes me cringe. And maybe that’s what it is about communion that makes it the deepest kind of prayer possible to humans: it is not on our terms. It is not sitting comfortably in my dorm room, conversing politely. It is much, much more. It is a confrontation with a God who is so different from us, so infinitely different — and yet also so capable, and what is more amazing, so WILLING to be one of us, to be part of us. This is God come down, God come in. God come to live with us and die with us, to stay just as vulnerable inside our skins every day as he was on that awful hill in Israel so long ago. To die a hundred times in me each day if that is what it takes — because when God said yes it was the biggest, deepest yes ever spoken: yes without conditions, yes right now and yes forever.


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