i grew up in a small church that practiced the 'lord's supper' every sunday. we also called it 'the breaking of the bread'. it was a simple service, men participated by sharing a portion of scripture (usually focused on christ's death), requested a hymn (usually sung acapella) or prayed. the whole hour devoted to the remembrance of christ's atoning death on the cross.
we brethren took this commission from jesus very seriously. as a young girl i sat in silence, breaking that only to sing the requested hymn (or giggle uncontrollably with my sister, as my mother pinched the backs of our arms to reinstill the silence). all of the while focused on the two silver goblets and the loaf of whole white bread on the silver platters, 2 stacked, so when the bread was broken one half was put on each platter and passed from pew to pew, hand to hand.
after baptism i was allowed to participate in this sacred event. never unworthily, as that meant something so severe my young mind could only imagine the horrible punishment only this side of the flames of hell in intensisty.
it was that soft, fresh white bread and that sip of mogan david wine that motivated me each week to keep my lists short, confessing every imaginable sin, and some imagined and confessed, just in case.
i reflected on those memories last weekend as i entered the labyrinth at the national youth workers convention. 11 stations, 5 moving toward the center of the labyrinth, and 5 moving outward - the center station, #6 is a sacred space for communion with god. bread and wine sit centered amongst the pillows. a small loaf of bread wrapped in a cloth, waiting for communion with me.
this was a culmination of 24 hours of silence and contemplation and my heart was full. as i sat and looked at the 'elements' (a term from my brethren days) i realized with astonishment that the items christ chose to use as pictures for us were the two most difficult items for me to resist.
i personally don't drink alcohol. it is not a spiritual choice per say, but a practical one. i struggle with sugar and it's affects on my body, i know the multi-generational affect alcohol has had on my heritage. social drinking isn't a possiblity for me personally, i truly don't think i am capable of such a thing. i partied pretty hard my senior year in high school and know that if i had headed to university instead of bible college i would have been a statistic. i don't have a problem with others partaking, i'm actually quite jealous. i would love to have the self-control to be a social drinker. it takes the edges off of social interactions, edges i'd love to have removed.
the other item jesus used was bread. i have wrestled with bread my whole life. nothing gives me greater comfort. i was able to give up chocolate for the past 5 years because i allowed myself the comfort of bread. i know i abuse it even know. i know that when i am feeling poor, scared or sad the cart at the grocery store has 5 different types of bread in it.
in remembrance of me... two items available to every tribe and culture - each has it's own representation or form - and yet these two items are stumbling blocks to me. i sat at the center of the labyrinth and cried. i so long to have this area of my life redeemed. i know that alcoholism and food addiction are diseases without cures. they are something that i will struggle with my whole earthly life. as i dipped that chunk of bread into the wine i prayed for a magic cure, for a lifting of the curse. i knew my faith was not strong enough to believe even if a miracle occurred. but i longed deep in my deepest heart to be able to partake of that covenant without the baggage of my past.
bread and wine, it could have been beer and pretzels, or cookies and milk. he chose bread and wine.
i learned at my strict evangelical upbringing that they are just symbols, no lutheran consubstantiantion and catholic transsubstantiantion were both errors (i mean no offense to anyone who believes those tenants to be true). they were just bread and wine. sitting there that day i wished i was catholic. i wish that those elements were changed, that they truly became the body and blood of our lord. it would make it easier, simpler, less confusing.
jesus, you know my struggles, you know my confusion. help me to unfold the depth of meaning, the beauty of the metaphor. heal me, help me, show me all that i need to understand about this mystery. give me a deeper understanding into my own struggle and the purpose of your words.