Sorry folks, I’ve been having too much fun writing at Composting Faith, a new e-magazine on sustainability and following Jesus. Since, I didn’t want you to think that I had totally forgotten you, I thought I’d republish something that seems timely. I wrote this article for a friend’s blog Subrenovationis during Lent of last year.
Life often seems complicated. I’m capable of a broad range of feelings and emotions and many times these disparate feelings seem to get in the way of meeting God. When I come to church, a lot of baggage comes with me. I might be happy. I might want to hear God’s voice. I might want to soak in God’s presence. I might be spiritually hungry. I might even be desperate for Jesus. At other times, church hits me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to be there. I’ve had a bad week. I’ve had a bad weekend. I’m hurting. I might be angry or even depressed.
On those days, I share the sentiment of Jesus and David:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Oftentimes when I feel sad or depressed, it can feel as if heaven is a locked fortress. God is hiding in an elusive place. He’s a million miles away. He’s inaccessible and unavailable, and if He were available, then surely He wouldn’t want anything to do with me.
When I’m feeling good or spiritual, the Eucharist can be a joyful thing. I reflect about Jesus, His life and His love for me. I think about the cross and Jesus’ death. I might reflect on my life and think about some sin in my life, or about pursuing reconciliation with someone. I might repent to God for my sin or the hardness of my heart. In these moments I come to communion prepared to meet my savior.
On the other hand, when I’m immersed in my own troubles and God feels very far away, I might have an uneasy relationship to the Eucharist. My steps feel uncertain and tentative. While I know God loves me, I’m a little unconvinced that God loves me right now.
I would much rather come to God later, when my heart and life seem right, or at least better. This coming to God, in the midst of my confusion, my depression or sadness seems off-putting and awkward.
In the midst of these conflicted feelings comes communion. Jesus wants to feed me. He wants to break bread with me. He wants to give me himself. In these moments of confused feelings, I look deeply inward and come to the realization. . .
I need Jesus. I need you. In this moment, when I feel so profoundly lost and adrift I need you. I’m amazed that you want to me, right here and right now. In this moment when I’m feeling complex feelings of inadequacy and shame, I have you Jesus. You know my shame. You also know the deepest and darkest parts of my heart and you still desire to sit with me, break bread with me and feed me.
Over the past few years, I’ve discovered the growing understanding that the Eucharist is for the broken, the hurting and for people who feel so messed up that they are uncertain if God still loves them. In other words, the Eucharist is for me. Rather than let the bread and the wine pass me by, because I feel unworthy, I receive His blood and his body, because more than ever I need Jesus.
The Eucharist is a reminder that Jesus wants to be a part of my life. Despite my doubts, fears and uncertainties, He loves me. The Eucharist is a reminder to me that God doesn’t want me to wait until “I am right” before coming to Him. The Eucharist offers me hope in the middle of my hopelessness. It is a reminder to me that God knows I’m utterly screwed up and yet despite my feelings of inadequacy He offers me bread and wine. He calls on me to drink and eat. He loves me.
He loves me!
My Experience with the Eucharist
At my church, the Greater Boston Vineyard, they take communion every week and it’s a very simple experience. If you want more of Jesus and want to say yes to him, you can take communion. On the whole, I very much value this perspective on the Eucharist, which sees communion as being something broad, inclusive and first and foremost about wanting to enter into a relationship with Jesus.
I expect some people might find this approach to communion to be overly familiar.
Nevertheless I cannot help but think about those first disciples who took the first communion lounging around a table.
For the first disciples, communion was about breaking bread with Jesus, their savior and friend. Clearly they were more than a little confused by some of the things Jesus was telling them about his coming death. They didn’t understand why Jesus had to go away. In the midst of this confusion, the one thing the first disciples wanted was Jesus.
For Jesus, this was enough.