Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Conversation with Bread and Wine


Jesus, whom now hidden, I by faith behold, 
what my soul doth long for, that thy word foretold:  
face to face thy splendor, I at last shall see, 
in the glorious vision, blessed Lord, of thee.

- Att. Thomas Aquinas, The Hymnal 1982, #314.

.   .   .


O bread, I wonder, what is Sunday morning like for you?  When trembling hands and quiet whispers call you forth from blissful sleep, what inklings do you have?  When the priest cries out from deep to deep, and the Spirit quickens you to life you don’t deserve, what meaning do you make?  Do you sense a holy terror?  Do you anticipate delight?  Do you marvel at the story spoken tenderly to you?  Do you believe your insignificance defeated?  I ask because I don’t know how you do it.  I marvel at your calm.  Or are you only unaware of all that God makes new in you?  You are, after all, just bread. 

One moment, “bread”; “Body of Christ” the next, as human hands tell human hands the promise of God by you. 

And wine, in the endless wait that was your fermentation, did you ever dream of this?  I wait, too, and your dusty bottle resonates with me.  You and I--we share too many days lost to dry and distant cellars.  “How long, O Lord, how long?”  O wine, when I don’t covet it, your patience inspires me.  But surely you could not have known...surely you could not have fathomed this.  “Blood of Christ.  Cup of salvation.”  O wine, did you doubt it?  Did you ever wonder if the wait that was your lifetime--the perfecting of your taste--might end simply and cruelly with one night’s drunkenness?  Did you worry about these things?  And now, Blood of the New Covenant, you declare the forgiveness of sins! 

Tell me.  What is it like to point with all that you are to an Other?  I mean, you point so completely that where you end and God begins is the unending argument of theologians.  How do you stand it?  What is it like? 

I know, I know--I ask a lot of questions.  Forgive me and be kind if I come off too nosy; you see, I too am called the Body of Christ--or at least a member of it.  That is, I am told that the transformation I see in you is likewise meant for me. 

This news should be my joy; and sometimes it is.  Other times, though, it scares me.  I ask questions, and wonder.  Who am I, after all?  I don’t have the first notion of what it is to be God’s food for others.  I confess I’m rather clueless as to how to live this out.  But then I look at you, and--I mean no offense--you are only bread and wine.  You have nothing to offer God, still He creates you and continues to touch you, over and over with His presence, until you bring the whole of this world to the same closeness that you share with God.

Gracious God, I find myself lining up alongside bread and wine, waiting for your touch.  And, Lord, I confess that “lining up” and “waiting” are not verbs that I find terribly exciting.  I get agitated--even angry.  You know I get anxious.  Lord, in this Advent, I will need help for the waiting.  But I will wait.  What else can I do?  Your touch is salvation!  Only Lord, help me to wait.

Amen.

[Originally appeared as an article in the St Helena's CrossFinder newsletter.]

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