The Body of Christ

The body of Christ, broken for you…

I have not served communion very many times. I was recently ordained and have not been in a ‘traditional’ pastoral role for much of my ministry service. My first Sunday morning helping administer the elements to a congregation of people I’ve gotten to know and have started to love had a profound effect on me. I stood at the front of the sanctuary with another member of the pastoral staff, holding a silver plate bearing a hearty half-loaf of inviting, crusty bread. I started off saying the words to each person as he or she came forward with a smile, almost a chirp, saying words I knew I was supposed to say, doing what I knew was supposed to happen as we serve Christ’s body and blood to congregants as they file forward. People left their pews and approached me, tearing off a small bit of that inviting bread that I was offering to them. Somehow, that tearing, that violent wrenching of the bread started to mean something different to me as a server then it had when I myself had received the bread/body. I was the one who had to keep saying those awful words. Over and over and over. They kept getting louder in my ears.

The body of Christ, broken for you…

The body of Christ, broken for you…

The body of Christ, BROKEN for you…

The body of Christ, broken

I didn’t want to keep saying those words. As tears welled up in my eyes, I tried to focus on just saying it for one person at a time… telling myself to just get through those awful words one more time. Then something else interesting happened. I started focusing on each face, smile, glance, and personal story that came forward to me in a new way. I was somehow able to serve this human being Christ’s body. I was somehow in the priestly role of offering the body of Christ to Cheryl, to Sue, to Tom, and to Dave. I lowered the plate for an old man who I didn’t know, whose wobbly legs barely moved him forward with the help of his cane. I smiled as a colleague came forward and I served her by name. I noticed how some people said “thank you,” some “amen,” some avoided my eyes and seemed embarrassed, some looked directly at me. Now the cadence of my repeated words changed. I heard a different meaning, a different volume on my own words.  

The body of Christ, broken for you

The body of Christ, broken for you

The body of Christ, broken for YOU,

and you and you and you,

Suddenly my fight against the tears seemed overwhelming. I felt this love and care well up inside of me for these people that I was learning how to serve and minister to. Even the people I wasn’t sure how to relate to, the people who took more of my energy, the ones who seemed ‘against’ my role at the church. These people, these very embodied, specific, messy, and beautiful individuals were who God died for. Not a perfect community that existed in my mind, or some ideal of a congregation in a textbook – but Brad, Cinda, and Erika.     

The body of Christ, broken for you…

The body of Christ, broken for you

The body of Christ, broken for you

The BODY of Christ, broken for you

And here it hit me. We are the body – we break the body – we become the body. Each of us in our singular being are the embodied presence of Christ. During communion, when we remember Christ’s body, we remember the body that broke and tore and was feasted on by whips, chains, and thorns. We break that body ourselves, through our forgetting, our brokenness, our selfishness and greed, our sinful pride and arrogant ignorance. We break the body, we break the bread.

Then, somehow through God’s grace, we become the body. We re-member the torn members, the broken pieces, the forgetful choices of our lives. We speak truth into chaos, purpose into the void, hope into fear. We confess and look to the cross and claim that broken but raised, whole body as our own. Then together, as a body, we may become whole, satiate each other’s needs and hungers, serve one another through our faith and through our deeds. We remember the body so that we may become the body for each other; for the world.

And we need to remember. Again. And again.

The body of Christ, broken for you. Amen.      

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4 Thoughts on “The Body of Christ

  1. Kara on 2007/03/23 at 6:53 AM said:

    I have had very similar experiences each time I get the privilege of offering the elements during communion, of saying the words to people who I know and don’t know, of proclaiming that truth to all who venture forward. Those are powerful moments of connectedness and confession and I am always so grateful to be part of it.

  2. Liz,

    Hi! I don’t have your e-mail but I’d like to talk to you about maybe writing an article for the UMin magazine HandsOn, as this issue is on “women” and it would be great to have a few articles from a more mature theological perspective. E-mail me at my north park address if you’re interested. It would be good to do coffee with you sometime, too.

    Peace,
    Ingrid

  3. Liz –

    Hi! Would you be interested in writing an article for the upcoming HandsOn (UMin social justice publication) issue on “women”? Please contact me at my north park address if you’d be willing to do that. I’d love to get coffee with you sometime, too.

    Peace,
    Ingrid

  4. In preparing for an upcoming staff retreat for our ministry team where we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper, I came upon your contribution. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with a broader audience. I was moved and inspired as I read the story of your experience. I will likely share at least some portions of it at our upcoming retreat.

    Grace & Peace,

    Jack

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