Sacramental Clumsiness


“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22:19-20

Two weeks ago at my church we took Communion. Celebrating Communion amongst the saints is one of the most important, as well as one of the most beautiful things a church body can do together. God present amongst his people, evident in the weight of grace we experience as we partake of the elements. The bread and the wine (grape juice for us), symbolizing the body and the blood of our Lord.

Such rich symbolism-The body of Christ broken, the blood of Christ poured out-for my sin, and the sin of those all around me. We receive the elements, and we receive this grace one more time. Grace imparted, symbolic and very real.

We all see the symbolism within the Lord’s Supper. We understand what the elements represent. We understand, at least to the degree our finite minds can understand, what Christ has done for us. But, I wonder if perhaps many of us are missing one other key symbol contained within this most precious of ceremonies.

As we pass the elements, there is a certain clumsiness. There is an uncertainty. There is nervousness and even a bit of quiet and controlled chaos. “Is the gentleman going to bring the plate to me, or do I need to get up and get it?” Even he doesn’t seem too sure of where he is supposed to go. There is space between myself and the person to my right, so I gingerly walk it over, afraid to spill the juice. I slowly pass the cups, she carefully receives them from my hand. This scenario repeats itself time and again throughout the congregation. My 3 year old daughter loudly whispers throughout as I try to shush her, then she finally decides to get up and take off down the aisle. I have to race after her.

This clumsiness, this uncertainty, this bit of chaos in the midst of the sacred as we receive the elements is the perfect symbol to represent the way in which we receive Christ. And how powerful it is! We fumble around, so unsure of ourselves. To the naked eye there is nothing elegant, nothing sacred, nothing graceful about it. As we shakily received the cups, so we shakily took hold of Christ himself. In all of our clumsiness and gracelessness we receive the infinite grace of Christ. In spite of all of our uncertainty we can be sure of our place in his kingdom.

Thank God it doesn’t depend on us. Thank God our receiving of his grace has nothing to do with the gracefulness or gracelessness with which we receive it.

From the book, Beautiful Ruin: More Reflections In The Midst Of The Journey

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