The Monday after

It’s Monday and I awake with a headache, facing too many tasks on too little sleep.

We’re headed into the crazy month of August… fire hall training, fostering training, an editing project, a taste-test project, a ten-day visitor, beans and peaches to can, back to school, two weekend trips and a daughter’s birthday.

Today I have two cakes to make for a social, three loads of laundry, three children to tend. My house looks like the Nazis invaded on Sunday and strewed as many items as possible over the floor. I make a deal with my sons: either you stop having bad dreams or you clean the Lego pieces off your floor before going to bed.

I hope someday I am grown-up enough to decorate a cake for strangers without ordering the kids out of the kitchen mid-process and having an emotional meltdown.

It’s that kind of day.

Last night we had communion at our church and almost I stayed home. My faith has been shaken these last months, and I feel small and sinful, unworthy of the “righteous” stamp Jesus placed on me. Thank goodness His work in me is not done! I did not plan these words to my congregation and only in the moment of speaking did I know they were true: I want to manipulate life so that I look good.

The doubts and sins tumbled from my mouth into the safe, the so safe ears and hearts of His people and left me empty and cleansed, and when His bread and wine took their place they washed me with sweetness. All I know is that I need Jesus terribly, and I need His people, though sometimes I hurt them and they hurt me and I think we cannot go on together. This is the only place I know to find Him.

After thirty-some years of living and extensive thought, I have concluded there are two things of which I can be certain:

First, that my small protections and deceptions are never as complete as I think they are.

And second, that the taste of His bread and the savor of His juice helps to heal the broken places of the world.

Yes, I am quite sure.

Communion Sunday

Confession: I love communion. I wish we had it every Sunday like Catholics. The Lord Jesus is everywhere in our world, and touches us in a million different ways; but I like to think there are a couple of places He will never miss, a couple of intimate graces that always lead straight into His heart.

Part 1: A Recipe

unleavened bread

Unleavened Bread

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar or honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk or cream (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp oil

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients and stir into dry, adding a little more cream as needed. Do not over mix. Knead briefly, like biscuit dough. Roll or pat to ¼ inch thickness on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Score into squares with a pizza cutter. Prick each square with a fork. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Brush lightly with melted butter and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and brush again lightly with butter. Cut into long rectangles while still warm.

*****

Part 2: A Song

Almost every time we take the Lord’s Supper together we sing this song, which is almost a chant.

by Christ redeemed

from Songs of Faith and Praise

I love it, especially the last verse in which we become a link in a long bright chain–uniting His dark betrayal night with His final coming. He said He wouldn’t taste the juice of grapes again until He tastes it new with us in the kingdom.

*****

Part 3: A Magic

Confession: Sometimes I am bored with church. I can be cruising along one Sunday after another, especially in the winter, thinking We are a mess. I mean really. How can God stand us? I can’t even stand myself.

And then one day, unexpectedly, the magic will come back. I don’t know why. It may be seeing a youth girl leading music up front. It may be watching my son do the same, for the first time in his life. It may be that particular worship song with almost unbearably intimate words, still falling short of describing Christ as Lover, and suddenly my face is flaming and I am feeling public worship for the first time in months.

It may be the snack afterwards, and the one really significant conversation. It might be the almond-date-coconut balls, sweet in my mouth. It might be the pretzel bark. It might be the chemistry in the group of ladies. It might be that baby who grinned at me. It might be the phase of the moon, for all I know or care.

But the magic is back and I welcome it with open arms. I finally get it: He’s here.

We can talk all we want about the glory days, the Moses days, the Paul-and-Barnabas days. We can talk about the Reformation days, the Menno Simons days, the meeting-in-secret days. We can talk about the Andrew Jantzi days, the big-tent-revival days, the hitting-the-sawdust-trail days. We can talktalktalk. But unless we know He’s here, right here—in my outskirts-of-town-half-renovated-almost-too-small-already church building on a Sunday morning—in my sisters-in-the-chairs-about-me and my brothers-with-all-their-faults-around-me and my little-children-going-to-learn-the-lessons-I-heard-years-ago—church is just another thing to do.

People, He’s happening here, in our time.

I wish there were Big Magic every Sunday; but maybe there is, and I miss it. Sometimes it takes a fresh voice to point it out. The breast cancer survivor. The wild, destructive preschooler calming down into a functional, happy first grader. The young man turning his back on a selfish, immoral life and declaring publicly, “I have decided to follow Jesus!” The 87-year-old woman losing everything in a house fire, and coming to church praising God through her tears.

His Spirit is alive and well, and there’s no place I’d rather meet Him than here.

I’ve often wondered if the unforgivable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, is nothing more or less than discounting His presence. But it’s not so. Nathanael thought He was a joke and Peter thought He was a ghost and Mary took Him for a gardener—and He loved them and led them anyway, and gave them another chance; I know He has mercy on me.

So I show up again, and watch for the fire to descend. Communion Sunday, it always does.

Lord, open my eyes.

*****

Related post: Communion

The Lost Dogs sing a song that says all I just said, better. Read the lyrics here.

Where do you find Him on Sunday?

Red

Confession: You already know this about me–sometimes I write about caterpillars when I can’t write about cataclysm.

My grandfather is dying today (my only grandpa, pillar around which my earliest memories twine), and my sister is in the ER for the third time in a week (my only sister, oh my sister). I hold this at bay with words about little things, and pray that when I need to write the big ones, grace will come. Remember me and the people I love to Jesus today.

*****

Confession: I didn’t know how to do it.

Visiting a new church, I sat with other mothers chatting in the nursery, my two-year-old playing around my knees. The door opened. A woman and a man entered, the first holding a silver plate, the second a silver chalice. “Would the mommies like communion?” They turned first to the regulars, then looked to me.

Gladly I reached for His grace.

“The body of Christ, broken for you,” said the woman softly, and I took a piece of wafer from the bits on the plate.

It was a large piece. I put it in my mouth and began to chew the hard, dry cracker, thinking of Jesus.

I looked up and saw one of my new friends receiving the juice—dipping her cracker into the cup, then putting it in her mouth. Oh no. No!

The man with the chalice turned to me. “The blood of Christ, shed for you,” he said.

Red stained my cheeks, red stained the cup. Mutely, I shook my head. Mumbled around my crumbling cracker. I already put it in my mouth. Hand to my face, eyes on the floor, I stood there shaking my head at the blood of Christ, as though I wanted no part of Him.

But my mouth hurt from wanting Him, from the cool juice of washing that did not touch my lips, until at last in the evening He came to me and I cried against His shoulder. He took the sting into the wounds that held the sin of the world, carried it in the wounds that filled the cup.

*****

What can Jesus carry for you?