Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Getting a Ripped Body

As I stood in front of my little congregation on Sunday, I offered up my customary welcome to the Lord's Supper.  I try to blend my invitation with the theme of the message of the day, so it varies a little bit.   The Supper itself follows the same pattern every month, the same script.

I may change that at some point...just so's it doesn't feel quite as rote to folks.

But the words are fine, and on Sunday they flowed as they always do, back and forth, "leader" and "response."

As we moved off script and into the Words of Institution, I stepped behind the one-by-three foot table that we use for communion.  I began to speak.  "On the night before His arrest," I intoned, and reached down to move the linen off of the communion bread.

And there it was.

Oh, it was bread.  Wonderful, delicious bread, one of my very favorites.   Not challah, because a full challah round would go to waste.  It was a lovely small high-quality artisian sourdough, modestly sized for the modest congregation.  It looked just like the sort of thing you might have bought at Mama Jerusalem's Organic Bakery back in the first century.

But as I scanned it, a few keywords lit up the emergency procedure section of my cortex.  Hard thick-crusted organic sourdough.  Small size.  No incision.   The liturgical Defcon level was immediately elevated.

Immediately, my mind spooled up, spinning the speaking of the words of institution into a subroutine as I processed what I was seeing.

I'd heard such tales in seminary, of pastors struggling mightily before their congregations, futilely attempting to rend an unrendable loaf.   Pure church comedy gold, sure, but that's not quite the feeling I was hoping to invoke.

As I raised it, I was prepared.  I drove the tips of my fingers forcefully into the thick crust for grip.  And when I spoke the words, this is my body, broken for you, I growled them little bit, as the bread fought my tearing.  It came apart in a cascade of crust and crumbs.

I knew I worked out for a reason.

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