hunger.

January 18, 2008

one sunday, about a year ago, i walked into church in the same way i always do: just as the service had started, the music beginning, and people standing to sing together. i made my way down one of the aisles to my usual spot, the front right section, near the band. i quietly scooted into a hard, wooden pew next to the fisher family –a favorite family of mine. as people around me sung, i – the latecomer – joined in as i simultaneously tried to get myself settled by unwinding my scarf, wriggling out of my pea coat, and silencing my cell phone. ben, the smallest fisher, tugged at my arm, wordlessly asking to be lifted. i bent down, drew him up, and together we began to bounce to the beat provided by guitars and drums. with my arms snuggly wrapped around my little friend, my mouth moved with familiarity to the words of the song. distracted my eyes moved about the room. i noticed all the regular things, like the way the sunlight shone through the colorful glass above the balcony and the way the clock hung crookedly beneath the projector. i noticed the faces of people i knew and faces of people i’d like to know. my eyes continued to move around the sanctuary as ben and i bounced, finally landing on the large, wooden table in the front. known and familiar, the sight of this table caused an inexplicable warmth to stir within my core. this baffling warmth awakens in me each time i see this table, whose entablature reads, “Do This in Remembrance of Me,” [the last “e” partly broken off]. on top of the table rested golden colored plates and goblets. we were invited to take our seats then. i sat. i looked at ben. i smiled and squeezed him tightly. i had forgotten. i’m not sure how. it was the first sunday of the month. i continued smiling. that morning i’d get to hear my most favorite sound. but we’ll come back to that in a minute.

as i have grown up – and continue to grow – i have come to understand the beauty of a meal. its beauty is intricate and layered for the meal itself is rich with complexities. beginning first with the atmosphere: the table and its settings, the lighting and shadows as they fall across the room, the sounds of voices and movement. then there are the people present. ranging in age and gender. each with their own story, each with their own future. lives that have somehow collided and crossed paths. lives that have been shaped by the presence of others. the richness completed by the food and drink itself. the substance of the meal. food abounding with scents and texture and flavor. soft-centered bread with a crusty exterior, melted cheese stretching out long and thin, the pungent scent of bright green broccoli, the heated taste of jalapenos, or the flaky quality of a fresh fish fillet. washed down by ice cold milk, the perfect chardonnay, or water (kissed with the hint of lemon). there are the elements not seen, heard or tasted, but rather felt: the connection between the meal sharers, the differences between them becoming more apparent, the comfort both offered and discovered, the fullness within. all of this combining to create the masterpiece we call a meal.

I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover meal with you…Jesus said to them.
he says to you and me.
for a long time i often wondered why he “earnestly desired” to share that meal with those people. knowing it would be his last. knowing it would not happen again for quite some time. knowing that shortly following that meal he would be betrayed, handed over, and killed. but Christ knew the richness of a meal. and he knew, specifically, the mystifying beauty of that particular meal. in a sense, that meal would continue until he returned. the scent, texture, and flavor would be different than any other meal in history. no one before had ever tasted it. all people, throughout time, would be invited to sit at that table. Jesus earnestly desired to serve that feast. he earnestly desired to provide that meal, and he was the only one who ever could. for he would feed people himself. his very body and his very blood would be the main course. and that sweet, perfect, beautiful meal would come at a very high price. it would be bought through bitter, angry, and ugly means. what does it mean to understand the beauty of this meal?

Take this and share it among yourselveshe instructed.

and still instructs.he shared this meal with his disciples. with doubters. his friends. his betrayer. his followers.

he fed them with his body, quenched their appetite with his blood.

we share this meal with others. we are but one invited guest.

by sharing in communion with others it means that we are sharing in the body. we are sitting around the table with people that we might not know, we might not like, that think differently than we do, that look different, that make us uncomfortable. yet these are the people Christ calls us to share this meal with.

…do this in remembrance of Me…he asks.

i pray we don’t forget.

there is power in remembering.

in bearing something or someone in our minds. we take them with us. forward. we take Christ with us as we sit at this table, as we draw up our seat, as we consume the meal offered. without him we are left empty. by taking in what he has offered we are continually transformed as we move forward, as we continue to live with Him in us.

if we forget whose body has been broken or whose blood has been spilled, the beauty fades.

we do it, and i pray we remember.

that morning i heard my favorite sound. it was after i sat down with ben. after the prayer of confession. after the prayers of thanksgiving. after the reading of scripture. after the sermon. in between two songs our pastor rose. he reminded us, with Paul’s words, that “For as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” that is when i heard it. i bowed my head, closed my eyes and listened. and i heard the sound i look forward to hearing every month. i heard the hunger pains of God’s body. i heard the entire church groan as people stood up out of wooden pews onto old, creaky floors. i heard many individuals moving together as one towards Christ. i heard the whispers as His body was kindly and generously offered to others. i heard people returning to their seats. full. quiet resuming…hunger pains relieved. i sat. with my eyes closed. listening. and thinking that there’s not much in the world more wonderful than a meal shared.

i got up, and joined in.

 

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5 Responses to “hunger.”

  1. Seth said

    Beautiful and articulate. Glad you’re sharing this.

  2. proudtobeyourfriend said

    so i promised that i wouldn’t say “what i think about this” but i thought i should at least describe the environment in which i read it.

    I had just arrived back at my house after a long night of good music with friends. I walked into my house, straight into my room and in a matter of seconds was wearing my sweats. fleece ones at that. And as I sat down at my desk about to start reading, a soft noise came down the hall and began to fill my room. My roommate had begun to practice on the piano for this weekend’s service. So as i sat here and started to enter the place you’ve described, i was met by the sounds that have become all but synonymous with this experience.

  3. NW Clerk said

    Beautifully written Lisa. Keep them coming.

  4. SpokaVegas said

    I miss those creaky floors.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    You’ve been bookmarked.

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