“The Body of Christ broken for you.“ With those simple words, we receive the most precious body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Finding ourselves somewhere between the Catholic “This IS the body of Christ” and the Protestant “Take this in remembrance of me,” we gather at the table to be fed, to be nourished, to be empowered by our gracious God. It is such a joy and a privilege to be part of such a celebration.
Many years ago, when the ordination of women was still being debated, a friend, soon to be the second women ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, once told me, “I have been setting the table, preparing and serving the meal, and then sending people back out into the world to do their work and live their lives. As a priest, I will continue to do just that, except now I will be the honored assistant of our God.” My friend went on to be ordained. For me, though, her words have lingered on in my heart and my being: the participation and feeding of God’s people are at the core of our being. “The Body of Christ broken for you.”
That bread, that body, that holy and spiritual food is quite literally life-giving and life-sustaining. It is the sustenance we desire, the food that we need to do God’s work, and to be who it is that God intends.
These pandemic days have tested and tried us in ways that we could not have imagined. Simple things that we once just did are now far more complicated. Things that once seemed commonplace can now seem extraordinary. Even hearing those words, “The Body of Christ broken for you,” even feeling that small wafer in our hands, even tasting that bread in our mouths, even gathering and being fed by our God all have been changed.
Our God is always calling us forward. Our God promises a new life in a new land. We will not go back. Instead, we hear our God calling us to the “new.” Of course, not only does our God call us but our God promises to walk with us. “The Body of Christ is and continues to be broken for you.”
I invite you to participate by driving through the St. Barnabas parking lot between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday mornings to receive that “Body broken for you.” The pandemic indeed changes so much. What it does not change, nor ever will, is our hope and belief in a loving and gracious God who loves us beyond measure and gives us new life and new hope by feeding and empowering each of us — our God who feeds us and strengthens us. “Take, eat, this is my Body broken for you.”
The Rev. Sarah Nelson