“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.” - Luke 22:19
This new year brings with it a need to confess. I feel the collective persona-restoring pull to be optimistic, to reach for hope, and as much as progress excites me and a new era brings peace there is something over my shoulder I can’t ignore.
I feel consumed by my enemy: those who pretend to be God’s chosen ones, whose entire way is hypocrisy. I’m consumed by the white man who calls me a snowflake, but proudly walks into the grocery store ignoring the mask mandate. I’m consumed by the white woman who can cry, scream and scratch until she gets what she wants. I’m consumed by the church who has been able to keep its doors open by neutering its prophetic voice. I’m tired of the one who still thinks Trump will be president and assumes God’s will involves a second term for that man. I’m tired of being consumed and I’m tired of consuming. I certainly find in these confessions my own projected shadow, the hubristic, ego-absorbed, spiritually narcissistic parts of myself I’ve disowned. But there is much that is not about me, that is about them. So, how do I move forward?
I am a part of this portion of humanity. I am their brother, they are my siblings, and for the better part of five years I’ve not known how to safely engage with them in either simple dialog or healthy conflict. I find I must go inward, where regenerative power may lie. This way seems to be this practice of confession, which I define as an inner acknowledgment of what is, which is conceived and/or consummated in the community of others and the Divine. But I need a symbol, a window, a portal into what “is,” and into regenerative power.
This is my body given for you…
My protestant church experiences have largely lacked sacramental theology, so communion or eucharist has been a collective memorial, though each individual is welcome to make sacrament as they wish. On the flip side, eucharist can be so spiritually abstract that it feels non-human and therefore still disconnected from and unable to regenerate our humanity. Many of us have scrapped sacrament because we do not fall into the theological binary of physical or spiritual. We also can’t (or shouldn’t) partake together due to COVID, so what can communion offer us?
I read these words the other day, this is my body given for you, and immediately I heard an inner voice finish the sentence, so you don’t take it from others. We live in a world that is constantly taking a pound of flesh. We’ve watched so many people die this year, and we’ve heard about hundreds of thousands more. Racism has been forced out of it’s cave and now crawls around the earth in broad daylight. Hubris Christianity has become a fire-breathing dragon in its unconscious attempts to disown its shadow onto everyone else. We can’t come together to connect or hash it out, and with COVID we can barely experience the Eucharist of one another's company.
Here is what I do know: If we don’t consume Christ we will consume or be consumed by one another. Through the consumption of Christ we break the cycle of the consumptive practices of hate, avoidance, envy, lust and usery. By consuming Christ, Christ is re-membered in us and we become re-membered with ourselves with our neighbors. This has nothing to do with bread and wine - the elements of communion are lenses through which our sight is restored, we are properly resized and our humanity is reintegrated. The bread and wine are everywhere around us and within us, but we have to be open to them appearing in forms we don’t prefer, and speaking things we’d rather not hear.
We do not need to confess before communion as many have preached, but we must be open to the ego-pruning pain which liberation requires. We must have a confessional posture which allows us to name our incongruency, our ignorance, the harm we’ve inflicted on others, and the harm inflicted upon us. This is what it means to be an embodied human. It is Christ, the Embodied One, who comes to us, often incarnated in our bodies and in bodies around us, to lead us into confession of where we’ve wandered away from our humanity. If we can enter through this narrow way, this birth canal, we can be reborn into communion again. This is my hope for 2021.
In the name of the Embodied Communal One,