While sitting together as a family, Micah and I in a chair with Henry at our feet in the floor, we held the elements in our hands during our Good Friday service. As my pastor read the text, our hands shuffled the bread and juice in anticipation for the prompts:
“This is my body, take and eat. This is my blood, take and drink.”
Henry crawled over from his spot on the floor in front of us and pulled up curiously to see what Micah had in his hands.
I was reminded of myself as a child, watching the men of our church gathering up front to pray over the elements before passing the plates, the inevitability of plates clanking as they were passed down the pew right past me for years until I had made my own profession of faith and was able to partake along with those around me.
There was just something about Henry’s insistence as he reached his tiny hand over to grab Micah’s juice that made me say to myself, “of course we all want to partake in communion but we don’t want the commitment that comes before it.”
Communion is a holy practice that was made available by an unbearable sacrifice and should only be taken in holy reverence by those who have committed their lives to following Jesus.
But of course we want to just jump in and take communion without the commitment.
In the same way we want emotional healing without committing the time to see a counselor.
We see a culture of wanting the sex and companionship and not the commitment of marriage.
We want to see racial equality within our country without doing the work of seeing racial equality within the church or worse, we don’t seem to care about seeing equality in our country because we don’t want to face the ugliness of racism within the church.
We say “Sunday is coming” but to experience the fullness of the Glory that is Resurrection Sunday, we need to sit in the pain and feel the weight of our own sin hanging Jesus on the cross.
We have conditioned ourselves to skip past the hard, heavy and painful parts of our lives. We numb out with scrolling as a distraction. We try to control the situations and people around us. We even get hyper focused on the hope for something better and while need the hope to survive, it’s in tandem with the pain.
My fear for the Church is that we’ve accepted a mediocre American fast food version of Christianity – one where we make minimal commitments, we just drive up and place our order and “feast” on the way to something else that always seems to take a higher priority – and in turn miss out on so much of God’s glory to be experienced in the midst of pain, in the midst of waiting, in the midst of disappointment, in the midst of grief and loneliness and even the guilt of conviction.
When we don’t allow ourselves the space to sit in those dark places, we are also not allowing ourselves the space to experience the presence of Jesus with us in the pain and we miss the light He shines within the shadows of dark times.
Church, we can’t fully embody the Gospel of Jesus to a dark and dying world without acknowledging both the good and the hard truth of a life with Jesus – that Jesus came to save us from ourselves, yes AND it’s going to cost us everything the world says we need in full dependence on Jesus to provide something even better.
The life more abundant that we’re promised in Jesus lies within a life that acknowledges both the good and the hard truth.