One of my favorite things about being part of a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) community is that we observe communion every time we participate in worship. I know for some the frequency poses the risk of draining the ritual of its significance. But for me, it’s my favorite moment, pretty much every time.
There are lots of reasons I like communion so much, none of which involve the chance to get a mid-worship snack. In the Disciples tradition, we uphold the idea of the “Priesthood of all Believers.” This means, as my wife, Rev. Amy Piatt, puts it plainly every Sunday, that we’re all ministers, and therefore we all have a ministry. In our church this means we all have an opportunity to serve one another at the communion table. And as has become traditional in Milagro, our church, the person who shares their personal story usually helps serve as a symbolic extension of the generosity they have shown in word.
The stories we hear weekly are amazing, many of which are archived on our church website. I’m amazed both by the depth of brokenness and the profound healing that is shared in what we call our “show and tell time.” It’s simple, really; people bring something that helps them see God, and they tell the story about how it helps them do that. From there, peoples’ lives are broken open and shared in a way that allows all to be nourished by that brokenness.
We tend to think of being broken as a bad thing, which is understandable, especially in a culture that holds up perfection as the only true ideal. But whereas the world may suggest that imperfection is justification for an extreme makeover, we as followers of Christ see it as a curiously beautiful common thread that holds all of us together. It’s in that brokenness that we find the jagged edges in ourselves that fit together with others.
Jesus was big on finding power in brokenness too. In fact, he took the bread at the heart of the Jewish Seder meal and gave it new meaning in it’s broken-open state. He took what was a part of each of their daily lives, blessed it with new meaning and shared it with others. And we’re called to do the same.
“Remember me,” are two central words in the act of communion. For some, the command simply means to recall, to think back and not forget. But “re-membering” at its heart means to restore something that is broken to wholeness. It’s one thing to take a piece of the bread offered to you with thanksgiving; it’s another to see it as a charge, a challenge, as if each person in the room were given a piece of a puzzle and told to work together to make something cohesive of the pieces.
It reminds me of the old parable where a man stands before two doors, one of which is labeled “Heaven,” and the other, “Hell.” Behind the latter, a group of people sit around a table filled with food, but with long sticks tied to their hands so that every time they pick up a piece to eat, they can’t reach their mouths. the food drops and the process begins again. Behind the door marked “Heaven,” the scene is exactly the same, except that the people around the table are picking up food with their sticks and feeding one another.
Kind of a trite illustration, I know, but this is the Gospel – the good news – to me. If we allow ourselves to be broken open and shared, there was, is and will be enough. The people of Milagro are a blessedly broken lot. There are addicts in recovery, felons seeking a new path, excommunicates who vowed never to darken the door of a church again and life-long questioners. Our stories are beautiful, heartbreaking, hilarious and profound. But they have no power until uncovered, broken open and passed around.
In blessing others, we are blessed.
In feeding others, we are fed.
In being vulnerable enough to share the deepest parts of ourselves, we all become a part of a greater whole.
That is what re-membering is all about.