I watched the Presidential debate on Tuesday night. Why did I watch? Because I think it’s my duty to be informed — to try to see what I’ve missed before. (To be honest, I didn’t watch it all. I couldn’t. I turned the TV off for my own sanity and for my heart.)
My friends can tell you that I cried. Such ugliness. Such anger. Such indecency. I imagined my hope for a different future flying away like aerosols carrying the pandemic from unsuspecting person to unsuspecting person, making some of them sick unto death.
I stayed in that dark place through the dark night.
Then I started my morning like I’ve been doing for weeks now, listening to Rachel Held Evans reading her book Searching for Sunday.
Like so often happens, I found both hope and inspiration from her words. Here is the part that got to me. In it, Held Evans is describing her experience of when she was invited to offer communion to the youth and adults at a retreat where she had been a featured speaker all week.
As I stood at the front of the rustic camp meeting room, holding a loaf of bread in one hand and tearing off a piece at a time with the other, hundreds of people approached, one at a time, with their hands held out, ready to receive. “This is Christ’s body, broken for you,” I said.
I said it over and over again, to each person who came to the table—to the back-row boys who avoided my gaze, to the girls whose mascara rivered down their cheeks, to the kids who giggled in line with their friends, to the ones who came all alone. This is Christ’s body, broken for you. I said to the ones wearing designer jeans, to ones with beat-up shoes, to the ones I could tell were athletes, to the ones who were clearly the class clowns, to the ones who probably got picked on in school. This is Christ’s body, broken for you. I said it to the skinny girl who reached for a hug, the youth leader with tired red eyes, the chaperones who mouthed words of thanks. This is Christ’s body, broken for you. I said it to the boy who approached with his walker, the jock who grinned and whispered “Roll Tide,” the mom who told me she sent a letter of complaint to the UMC when she heard I was going to be the speaker. This is Christ’s body, broken for you.
It all got to me, but this part really got to me: “the mom who told me she sent a letter of complaint to the UMC when she heard I was going to be the speaker. This is Christ’s body, broken for you.”
Rachel Held Evans offered communion to the woman who rejected her as an appropriate speaker for her son’s youth camp. She offered communion to the woman….
And it came to me. I must offer communion.
I often think I must offer all kinds of things that are beyond my human ability. Beyond my maturity. Beyond my faithfulness. I must offer forgiveness, I think. I must offer grace. I must offer the benefit of the doubt. I must offer a hand of reconciliation.
Sometimes, like on Tuesday night: I. Just. Can’t.
I can’t offer all the things Jesus offers. But I can offer Jesus. I decided in that moment that I would conjure up the faces of all the people I have been angry with…all the people who push my buttons…all the people I want to mete out my particular brand of justice to…and I would offer them communion.
As I held the images of their faces in my mind (I would be embarrassed for you to know how many), I looked into the eyes of each one, offered the bread, and said, “This is Christ’s body, broken for you.”
And something in me unbroke. Probably not forever, but for a moment. And this moment is all I have.
Always in Hope,