Sunday, February 5, 2012

Grape Juice and Crackers

Over the past few weeks, while attending Solid Rock, I have really become overwhelmed by the act of taking Communion. For those of you who do not follow Jesus, this is probably an awkward topic that overwhelms you as well, but that is exactly where I am headed with this. Over and over now, I have stood in the dark lighting of a worship set staring down at the deep purple of grape juice- while in my mind, my chin is extended upwards, and I can almost see the dripping feet of Jesus the king. He is above me, mounted to a cross, dripping, dying, against the background of a massive sky, and saying nothing while saying all that will ever need to be said for all of time. I stand with that vision, and I can't help but want to eject it from my mind and put down the bread and the cup- who am I? Considering all that you are Christ, and knowing all that I am, how could you have done this for me?

Today, I thought of something new- Christ died for all of us- not just those of us who take communion in remembrance of Him. Christ died for all of us, and some don't even know who He is. Some don't even know that the bullet was headed for them, but that Jesus, who is more worthy to life than any of us, stepped in the way. Some don't know Him- but He knows exactly who all of us are, and He died knowing. I want to know Him more.

While there is a part of me that cannot bear the image of Jesus on the cross, there is also a part of me that wants to bow and lower myself in that place and just stay there. My body, despite the efforts of my mind at times, knows its creator, knows the Father, and cannot escape His presence. But my mind agitates itself, and I become like Peter whose lips promise allegiance to God, but reject Him in the face of men. Peter, who stood at the foot of the cross, and saw these images that dance in my mind with His own eyes. Peter, who denied Him. Denied Jesus.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

I'm not going around saying I don't know Jesus, but then again, no one is asking. At least not anyone who would be displeased with the answer. I honestly believe that they would rather not know- but the more difficult thing to wrestle with is that I would rather not be asked. What would they think if they knew that I attend church every Sunday and eat a cracker and drink some grape juice, calling it the body and the blood of Jesus, in order to remember Him? Surely they would question my sanity in response to the rituality of it, but Christ is the author of metaphors, and as I take communion I am encouraged that He lives in me, He nourishes my body, and He sustains me.

Some would gasp at the arrogance of it all, claiming that they didn't need Christ to step in, and that we have invented a savior in response to a fear-driven belief in the after-life, but they haven't heard His voice. For eighteen years, I watched from the outside as Christians ate His body, drank His blood, and obsessed over His brutal death, and I was appalled by the nonsense. But once I heard his voice, and once He began to show me His nature, it became so easy to see through the oddness of it all and into the beauty.

I look around at all of creation and I see God's beauty etched into every last detail, even in the pain I can find the traces of His mercy and His redemption. I can imagine Eve biting into the apple, falling asleep and dreaming all of this, until she awakes in God's presence again wondering how much could have happened in such a little amount of time. This will be over soon, He tells her. I'll be with you, and I will bring all things together. You will awake in my presence, and all of the fall will feel like a brush stroke compared to the eternity that I will draw you into. These reassurances He gives me persist throughout all of my days, since the day I finally decided to follow His voice, and yet I am often at a crossroads wondering what others would think if they could see the scenes of my worshiping mind.

I used to wonder, with upmost sincerity, how it was possible for Peter to deny Jesus if he truly loved Him as he claimed- now I wonder at my own battle, and press on for the day when I may stand before the masses unafraid.

"They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand." Acts 3:2-4