Monthly Archives: April 2010
I walk towards the communion table. I step before the basket of bread and the cup of wine. A time to remember. A time for renewal. Christ meets me here. I breathe him in.
But, again, the bread is the hard-crust-too-large-for-one-mouthful size—at least for me. I know I’m not the only one who finds this distracting. We talked about it in our book group. I smile as I remember our conversation.
This time, I am determined not to let it distract me. I pick up a piece of the bread and break it in two. The body of Christ, broken for me. I tightly clasp one half in my left hand. I dip the other in the wine. A time to remember. Forgive me. Strengthen me. Help us to be Christ’s body in the world.
I turn away from the table, the other half piece of bread still clasped in my hand. I slip it, gently, into my pocket.
I think, “I have Christ in my pocket.” I smile. I like that. But, will others think that is outrageous? I worry.
Then, I begin to think, what happens to the leftover bread? Is it thrown out? Fed to the birds? Does someone take it home and make fondue? I’m sure there must be some sacred handling of the leftovers.
I let it go. I’m sure the pastors and elders have this covered.
Later that day, I reach into my pocket. The bread! I remember. The body of Christ, broken for me.
Throughout the day, I reach into my pocket and grasp the bread—now hard as a rock. Inedible. The body of Christ, broken for me.
That night, as I get ready for bed, I open the top drawer of my night stand and tuck the bread into the corner. The body of Christ, broken for me.
And, so as I head to the communion table each week, I am no longer distracted by the super-sized pieces of bread. And, throughout the week, I remember the communion table. The body of Christ, broken for me.
I have Jesus in my pocket. But, more importantly, I remember. I remember that Christ bore the suffering on the cross for me. I remember that Christ meets me here, in the place where I am–today and every day–if I will just seek Him out.
The body of Christ, broken for me.
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
How will you remember Christ today?
I picked up the book from the shelf and started to read. I had read it before. Years ago. But, I wanted to come back to it. It was a book about marriage–having a successful marriage–despite the spiritual differences a couple might have.
But, this time, as I read, I became tense, immediately. What was it that bothered me? It was well written–certainly. Easy to read. But it was something else. I couldn’t put my finger on it. So, I put the book down.
This morning, I picked up the book again and started to read. This time, I knew the source of my tension: the author’s choice of words.
Loaded words. Words that seem harmless, but which carry negative emotions. Words, especially used in the context of marriage, that have a powerful message: you may not make it.
Surviving your marriage.
Managing your marriage.
The challenge of marriage.
Wow. How did I miss this the first time? Or, maybe, those words resonated with me the first time I read them–there were times when I wondered if I would ‘survive’ my marriage. And, certainly, marriage can be challenging. The first time I read this, maybe that is all I was looking for.
This time, the word ‘survival’ stirs up images of struggle, barely making it. Hopelessness. Maybe just ‘accepting’ marriage or ‘settling’ for it.
But, the gift of marriage is more than something to survive.
It is something that God beautifully created. Something that we long for–that we dream about when we are young. We yearn for the companionship and intimacy–beautiful intimacy–that marriage provides. That is the marriage God wants.
So, I close the book. I fold my hands. And, I turn to God to write the script.
Seek forgiveness, grace, and beauty.
Live fully and thankfully.
“take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life,
a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct
as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”
–Ephesians 4:24, The Message
Last night, I headed to church. A little late. And so, I hurried. I didn’t drive faster, but suddenly, without even thinking about it, I found myself thinking, “Come on, hurry up folks, let’s make the light.” “Move over, I have somewhere to go.” “What a maniac! Go tailgate someone else!”
I imagine Christ sitting in the seat next to me. Safety belt on, conversing as we head down the road. It is, perhaps, the worst place for us to converse. I’m a courteous driver — outwardly– but my inward dialogue, more often than I want to admit, is one of impatience. Like tonight. It’s ugly. But no one sees it. That is, until I put Christ in the passenger seat and I realize:
He sees it all.
A life that still needs work on the inside. A heart that wants a God-fashioned life, but that is not fully mature in Christ.
I reflect on what a “God-fashioned life” looks like. Life renewed from the inside and working itself into conduct in response to God. God accurately reproducing His character.
Figuratively, I unfasten my seat-belt and hand the keys over to Christ, once again. I turn towards Him. I let the Spirit move and breathe in me.
I turn back to the Word. “Walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. . . . do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love.“
So, in humility and with discipline, I seek a God-fashioned life. Not that I am capable of it myself, but through Him. By allowing the Spirit to fill me up and breathe in me and then pouring myself out in acts of love.
As I get behind the wheel of my car today, I breathe Christ in. I breathe out love. I breathe Christ in. I breathe out patience. I head, steadily, towards Christ. I allow God to reproduce His character in me.
I attended a woman’s forum yesterday where a friend shared a story about the pain caused by names–brands or labels–we allow others to place on us. After she shared her story, and the pain that she felt by being labeled as “disgusting,” she talked about how Christ can redeem our name–renaming us–to reflect the image God created us for. Through Christ, she redeemed her name: “Beloved.”
I walked around branded: adopted, unequally yoked.
Adopted at birth. I thought it was a gift–wonderful. But, as I wrote in my post Adoption, Hope, Heritage–during my college years I began to see myself as having no heritage–needing to create my own. I strove for high grades, top leadership positions, prestigious jobs. Then, one day, many years later, at a woman’s retreat, God washed away that brand–that burden I carried–I realized, through Christ, that I was–and am–first, a child of God. This Earthly heritage didn’t matter.
“Unequally yoked” is another label. Pastor’s talking about marriage at church, friends talking about marriage, others questioning me about my choice. Even my mom. I was “unequally yoked” to a man I loved.
I allowed that brand to slowly create a divide in my marriage. I blamed our different beliefs on our inability to make decisions together. I looked at what I didn’t have, instead of what I did have in my marriage. At times, it created pain in the raising of our kids. I longed for my husband and I to share our faith.
But, at the same time, I fully believed that the covenant of marriage was for all time. And so, I prayed for peace about this aspect of my marriage–that the rejection and the shame–would subside. I prayed that my selfish desire would subside. I turned our marriage over to God.
Over time, the label curled up and peeled off, bit-by-bit. Rather than “unequally yoked” I began to see Christ at the center–a marriage bound together by Christ. I can’t tell you when it happened, but I began to shed the guilt and shame and pain caused by the label.
I began to see all the wonderful things I do have in my marriage rather than this one thing I don’t have in my marriage. I began to see my husband’s gifts again. The things that made me first fall in love with him. God gave us a “Perfect Mismatched Marriage.”
I fell in love with him all over again.
A little residue remains from those labels, but I am aware of it and I turn towards Christ. He redeems my name.
What name do you need to redeem? What label or brand do you need to throw off?
You wrote them all.
And so, why do we fear sharing–reciting, reading aloud–the stories You write for us?
Unshared storybooks line the shelves.
They gather dust.
Those pages flowing with life.
Tears formed into letters on the page.
Wounds bound between the covers.
So now, gently, we lift a book from the shelf and open the cover.
Slowly at first.
Life pours out.
Puddles of ink in our laps.
I know that story.
I know those tears.
The Author’s voice resonates.
We stumble into grace.