Once in a while the Spirit of God graces me with a… you can call them a day dream, or dream or vision. What ever they may be, to me they are a word picture or image of some great truth that God wants me to understand. Usually they are used to get me past a stumbling block in my faith. Oh and yeah, the stumbling block is usually me.The silver serving trays holding the meal are brought out and placed on the altar. Pastor Curt begins explaining, like he does every Sunday, what the bread and wine represent to those of us who believe.To those of us who believe…. but I do believe – I think. Why these muddled questioning thoughts every Sunday when all I want to do is sit here, reflect on what Christ has done for me and have my heart touched.
My heart touched… I want to be moved. I want my soul to cry out in joyous rapture. I want….
Instead I find myself dwelling on my lack of faith, my inconsistencies, my shortcomings, my sins. Like the Catholic that I once was I want to beat my chest and cry out in agony, “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!” Just once I’d like to stop living this charade, fall down on my knees in the aisle and lament over my fallen nature. Fill the aisle with broken glass so I can crawl across it while those in the pews whip my back with a scourge.
Here come the Elders now, my fellow brothers in Christ. Men who I have led in Sunday School classes as well as on retreats. Men whose friendships I greatly value. Each one walks down the aisle carrying one of the trays, bringing me a meal from God. A covenantal act of remembrance that I partake in every Sunday and yet I question my true intent. “After all”, I hear my mind asking me, “aren’t you just participating so no one will look at you questioningly?”
Suddenly, I envision an Elder standing at the front of the church sternly pointing a finger at me while yelling, “HERETIC! He has no right to this meal! Take it away from him before he defiles it.” Of course the finger that’s being pointed towards me is my own. I alone, well not counting God, know the truth of my faith and how well I talk the talk while not being able to crawl most days let alone walk.
It’s at this moment, of my greatest despondence, while I hold the little plastic cup of grape juice in one hand and the unleavened cracker in the other that the Holy Spirit graces me with an image.
I find myself suddenly inside Michelangelo’s painting The Last Supper. Everything is exactly the same as the painting except there is only one person seated in front of me at the table. It is my Lord who sits alone at a table upon which a feast is laid out the likes of which I’ve only dreamed. The food and drink are spread out in splendid beauty; from one end to the other.
I however, stand yards away from the table. because I am in great fear of what Christ is about to say to me. What I know he must say to me. Fearing the worst I am incredulous as I watch a smile slowly ease across his face. His eyes aglow in merriment as if he knows a joke that I don’t. He does know that I don’t know and he’s now almost bursting from holding back his laughter. Yet in my mind I still don’t get it. He then gestures with his arms, spreading out his hands over the food as if to say look at all that’s here before me. At the same time he looks into my eyes, his gaze going straight to my heart, warming my soul with compassion that’s like a fire coursing thru my veins. Pointing to a seat, that I now notice is directly across from him, he bids me to join him. Now he does laugh because he fully see’s the confusion that crosses my face.
“Come, sit with me. This is my banquet and you are my guest. All of this has been prepared for you. You still don’t understand what this meal is?
Nothing you have ever done or will ever be able to do will make you worthy to sit here with me. You can’t invite yourself to dine with me, it is I who invite you. Now eat, drink and be blessed. For this is a meal that I give freely to you.”
Tears coursed down my cheeks as I raise the stale lifeless cracker to my lips. I sniff back tears hoping my wife and those around me won’t notice. A silent sob racks my shoulders causing me to catch my breath. All the anguish and doubt are gone in an instant, sliding down my cheeks like these tears of gratitude for the gift I was given. In unison with my church family I lift the little plastic cup to my lips and taste the sweet love of Christ. What a feast.