Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What did I miss?

A while back I said how much I was looking forward to Easter communion.

Bad news.

I missed it.

Went to a Good Friday service and they didn't have communion. It was an ecumenical service and since most community churches would never agree on how to have communion anyway they didn't have it. Instead they acted like it was Pentecost already and had a walloping good time singing camp songs. It was fine for a Pentecost service but it was like 43 days early.

Anyway, I was sick or something on Easter Sunday and missed church, and therefore the best part of church, communion.

What did I miss?

Truthfully, I sort of forgot about it until this Sunday when our church took communion again. There I was holding a good old cracker and then a familiar cup of juice and I was thinking about what I was about to do ... again ...

I was thinking about my faith, and how it used to be so based on knowledge. I felt like it was something I knew objectively and that could be proven. I don't think I thought that, but I felt it. I still think it can be reasoned and shown to be good, but I don't think, or feel anymore, that it can be proven. So what is left? A vague mysterious religion? Nothing solid?

Then it came to me what I've been starting to learn lately. That cracker and that cup are solid. They are very real objects that I put in my mouth and chew and swallow. Some cracker always gets stuck in my molars and then a few minutes later the juice washes it down.

And the tens of centuries full of tens of thousands of people who have one way or another eaten this bread and drank this cup---they are solid too. They have each of them run up against something and they have each surrendered to it and they have each in their own way tried to pass it on. And miserably as some of them have done they have in some way succeeded in getting that cracker and that cup and that Word and that Spirit to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada in the spring of 07 into the hands of a fourth generation Canadian boy who had the advantage (and decided disadvantage) of growing up in one of their church traditions.

Somehow or another this thing, this solid thing, this testimony of something has been passed on. To me. I've hit up against something solid. It tells me itself that it grew from a seed in some guys named Adam and Noah and Abraham and Moses and David and Isaiah and so on an then came to be a tree of life in a man named Jesus who, say what you want, was a real man in a real time who was like nothing the world has ever seen before and whose followers were changed from bumbling fishermen into the beginners of a huge and lasting movement by an event they claimed was a resurrection and which was never disproven. They are something real, and their testimony has really actually been passed to me. Badly in some ways, but in other ways really well.

And it comes to me in this thing called a canon. Three centures after the fishermen a bunch of people realized it was time to recognize what testimony seemed worthy to be bound together and carried forward. It is hard to argue with their decision. I have it my hand right now and I have about a dozen translations of it at home and it never ceases to amaze me and confront me and at like a solid thing in my hands.

And they passed on this thing called communion. This bread and this cup. Some of them even said that when I take it it actually becomes the body and blood of Jesus. It is that solid, they say.

Regardless of whether it actually physically becomes him or not, in a way it sure is becoming of Him. Just like for the first people to pass this message on He was a solid thing you could touch and poke and prod, so they passed on this cracker and cup you could let settle on your tongue and dissolve in your saliva becuase they wanted you to come up against something solid and have to decide to swallow it or not.

And so when I swallow it I am deciding to join them. I am thankful to have run up against a solid miracle called the church and to have a solid Bible in my hand and to be able to chew and swallow something real.

And behind all that is a Spirit, methinks, otherwise this whole tangled mess would never have got to me and never would have changed my life.

I'm at a place where my life needs changing again. And these solid things and that Spirit thing are thanfully quite relentlessly there. And when I take communion I swallow it again. And it is the same as always and yet always very new, and alive, and active, and surprising.

I hate it when I miss communion. There is a lot going on there.


Heidi said...

I like communion too. I didn't always. I didn't like the way it made me squirm, that heart examination. And then I never ever REALLY felt worthy to participate, but would anyways so people wouldn't wonder why I wasn't. But now communion always (at least most of the time) brings me to GRACE. And that's why I love it.
Nice post Jon.

matthew a. wilkinson said...

I guess everyone needs/wants something physical to reflect the "reality" of their beliefs about non-physical things. Even if I no longer participate in communion, I think it is such a beautiful ritual. The idea of partipating in the death of Christ so explicitly -by eating his flesh and drinking his blood- is outrageously powerful.

-ps. I really appreciated the comments on myspace.