Eucharist, Suffering, and Me
I am trying to better understand the Eucharist and offering my take on this sacrament of the Christian Church. The Eucharist is something that some churches do once a week, twice a month, or once a month. I have been part of church that did it every week, but now I am part of church who partakes once a month. I am not sure which is better, though I want to say that weekly may be the best practice. There are different ways of understanding this ritual of interacting with this shared meal with this act of remembrance. Each of us probably has our own favorite or preferred way of understanding it.
I see the Eucharist as a way of renewing my commitment to Christ and His Church saying I have been adopted into the family of God to show outwardly, what has been and continues to occur inwardly in my life. It is a profound way of saying I am a Jesus follower. I partake of the bread and wine because I stumble sometimes I fall flat on my face and need the love of the amazing savior we have; I partake of the bread and wine because I don’t always know how to live and need a wonderful Lord to show the way. Jesus fulfills both of those roles and so much more.
In The Eucharist, we come to the table of Jesus and remember who he is, what he did, how we are saved, what it means to the people of God, and where we are headed in and through the person and work of Jesus on the cross. Jesus was broken and blessed to be a blessing to the whole world. We, his followers are to be the very same thing today. The church needs to reconnect to its original vocation and purpose and light the world on fire through the glory of God. We tend to forget why we need Jesus, why God forsake Heaven to come to earth as human and die a horrible death. We forget about the debt we incurred that we could never pay and that Jesus took that debt onto himself and made us right with God. The bread and wine are symbols of very real very present reality of God at work in the world making the world the kind of place where God really is in charge where war is not possible and saints are not needed.
The Eucharist as well as the church is meant to go beyond the moment and place where it is shared, beyond the table and walls giving to the world the gift of freedom and healing in God. As we participate in the remembering of Jesus, we acknowledge that Our Lord is different, our life is different, and our identity is found in and through the Kingdom of God. We are God’s people not for our sake alone but to be a blessing to the world. How this works I do not know. Yet, as I partake of the bread and wine, praying God, ‘take hold of my life guide my steps and lead me where He desires I go,’ I feel real power and presence in this ritual of remembrance.
Yet, I am saying that we are free of suffering that once accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior that our life is sunshine and rainbows, because it is not. This weekend I was knocked out with misery and bleakness that knocked me down. I will share in the future about this. Here I want to simply share that suffering is part of the picture, so is joy, sin is still present and curse too, but so is freedom and healing; setbacks and defeats hold hands with victory and achievement. I have known moments of bliss and also moments of sorrow. Jesus both wept and laughed. You need both. To emphasize one over the other is wrong.
Sometimes we are living are life the best as we can, minding our own business and the next thing we know we get a flat tire or we’re facing a brick wall or we’ve broken down. Someone dies, a relationship ends, we lose our job, some disease strikes us. Maybe some combination of the above, it seems to come out of nowhere. Suffering leaves us feeling frantic and hopeless, unprepared to live this new reality. We don’t want to face it. We just want things to be the way they were. Sometimes you cannot go back, you can only go forward. That’s how life is.
Where is God when it really hurts?
Maybe God is actually closer to us than we think.
Maybe it’s when we’re in these situations, when everything seems to be falling apart, that God reminds us how much He really loves us. Maybe it’s in our pain and loss that God is closest to us. God is right there with us, bent over us whispering, “I love you. I love you.” Maybe it’s when we seem to be furthest from the divine that we are actually caught up in the divine conspiracy, in God’s desire to make us better than we used to be. Not that God causes our suffering, but He can and will use it for our benefit. God will bless us in the storm.
Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from suffering. If anything, it makes us more prone to it. We can no longer do it our way. We can no longer ignore the world’s suffering and how some people would gladly cause others agony. We must take a stand. We must take the hand of our needy brothers and sisters, lead them to the cross, and show them the wonder of a God who took on flesh to reconcile the world to him. A Christian is one who loves the unlovable, includes the excluded, guides the lost, cares for the hurting, is committed to being better than they used to be, helping others do the same, and affirms that we do this through Jesus Christ.
We all hurt. We all have faced the dark night. Not suffering doesn’t make us strong; it is pushing through the darkness that strengthens us. What we do with our suffering matters. We could let our suffering harden our hearts becoming heartless cynics or we could let our suffering make us a more loving and caring person. Our response to suffering makes all the difference.
So, when we’re going through the darkness not sure how we can go on wondering where God is and if he really cares in that moment God is there, just know that God loves you and there is a way through it. God won’t let the darkness overcome you. He won’t. God loves more than we can ever comprehend. Surrender to God. Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t let it ruin you. Let it bless you. In the morning, the light of the new day will shine a way out of the darkness. Just remember that we have a savior that loves us and will go through it with us. We are not alone.