“Oh no, I couldn’t,” my neighbor says to my offer of a fruit tart.
“You’re SO disciplined,” my other neighbor comments, as she helps herself.
I have invited them to my house to share the tarts. I have made them especially for the occasion. Prepared them lovingly, presented them carefully and attractively, included only healthy ingredients. And yet, one declines, and it is said of her…you are disciplined.
I come to the communion rail and accept the piece of bread from the hand of the pastor. “Wendy, this is Christ’s body, broken for you.”
I dip it in the cup and hear, “Wendy, this is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”
I say amen. And I eat. Not to be graphic or anything, but some of it sticks to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. And I think, oh, I want to consume every morsel. Wouldn’t want to waste a crumb. And then I remember my kitchen table and think…
What if I came to Christ’s table and said, “Oh no, I couldn’t”?
Ironically, my neighbor declined the tart as an expression of guilt. Speaking but not saying, I can’t eat that tart because I feel guilty about the weight I’ve gained. It’s not discipline she is speaking, it’s shame. I wonder how many don’t approach Christ’s table because they are ashamed. Unaware of the grace offered there. How many decline His offering because others might see them and judge them unworthy.
It is certainly true that I haven’t earned the right to eat that bread and drink that wine. But Christ died so I might change my “Oh, I couldn’t” to His “Yes, you can.” And not only that. He stands beside me as I do and says, “You’re so disciplined.” And He means it.
God is a God of paradox. In His Kingdom, consumption is disciplined. Who turns away the bread of life? Eat up and follow Me.
We do have an odd and often unhealthy relationship with consumption in our country because we know our own willpower to be lacking and our discipline to be weak, especially when no one is watching. Funny how in community, when everyone is watching, we can discover a “renewed discipline.”
As Holy week approaches and Easter morning dawns I pray we can gather as especially large and forgiving communities and resist the urge to look right and left at who might be thinking what about our presence. Let’s be disciplined about looking one way. Upward at the cross. Perhaps we will hear the words again, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
And for a moment we will feast without guilt or shame at a table where we are completely welcome. We’ve been invited. Our host expects us to eat what He has prepared.
***I wish all who read this a most Holy Week and a joyous Easter. The KC will continue in the week that follows. He is risen indeed. Amen.***