The Table for Sinners

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Approaching the basket of bread, I feel weak. My limbs are heavy and my thoughts are so scattered it is difficult to focus. I’m thinking about a lost friend, a broken relationship, a hard conversation, and rejection. I’m thinking about my anxiety and occasional depression. I’m thinking about how much I despised myself yesterday. I’m thinking about Job, the man who suffered deep pain and sorrow.

When I receive a piece of bread with my hands, the woman says to me, “The body of Christ, broken for you.”

He broke. Jesus broke for me.

Approaching the tray of tiny cups of grape juice, I feel sad. I could never measure up to all I am called to be. I could never repay God for what He has done for me. My gifts seems so small and inadequate, making no dent in the problem of justice.

When I receive a cup in my other hand, the man says to me, “The blood of Christ, shed for you.”

He bled. Jesus bled for me.

I don’t deserve to hold these elements in my dirty hands, much less consume them and have the presence of God re-establish itself in my sin-filled body. I don’t deserve to bow before the Lord in desperate repentance. I don’t deserve to present my mess at His feet and know that He will mend what has been broken, whether that’s my body, my mind, or my relationships. But here I am. Again. Reminding myself and acknowledging to God that I am absolutely unable to get through this life on my own.

Here I am. And God welcomes me in.

Often during the hour and a half that is Sunday morning service, all I can think about is how tired and hungry I am. I’m antsy at the thought of an afternoon nap. I delight in picturing what I will eat for brunch. But when I touch my lips to the bread and taste the grape juice on my tongue, all such fantasies immediately dissipate and I am left vulnerable before a God who provides for every need. It’s a reminder that I am not only my human needs and desires, but that I am beloved in the eyes of my Father.

I am not defined by my hatred of self. I am not defined by my fear. I am not defined by my failure to measure up or be good enough or be just as good as the next person.

“As long as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.”

Proclaim the Lord’s death. In consuming these elements, I confess that I am a sinner. I confess that Jesus had to come, that he did come, that he wanted to come. He loved us in his coming. It’s the ultimate proof of his fierce affection and bold love for his people.

I am re-defined right here, with this bread and grape juice between my fingers. I am somehow wholly defined as a holy daughter. And that’s all he longs for me to realize in this moment.

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