remembering broken bodies: a reflection on the Lord’s supper

“the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 corinthians 11:23b-24, esv)

 

 

“on the night He was betrayed.” that is, on the very night on which Jesus’ broken body was foremost on His mind. on the night when those closest to Him looked straight into His face and pretended they didn’t even know Him. on that night, Jesus took a loaf of bread in His hands, broke it, and said, eat up. it’s mine. it’s for you.

“and when he had given thanks,” scripture says. which is to say that even on the darkest night of His earthly life, when the promise of Easter was so distant it was not yet even a glimmer on the horizon, Jesus somehow found it in Himself, somehow found the words in His throat, to give thanks. on a night when, of all things to give, to speak, gratitude should’ve been the farthest thing from His lips. from His mind. on that night, He gave thanks. He remembered, even in the darkest darkness, that there is still something to give thanks for, Someone to give thanks to.

and “do this in remembrance of me,” He says. do this. that is, gather together. share a meal. a meal, of all things. a simple loaf of bread. something to drink. come around a table. together. share.

“do this in remembrance of me,” He says. in remembrance of Me. you’ll have plenty of your own broken bodies to remember, God knows. Jesus tells us to remember His. and in so doing, to take heart that His broken body means that we do not need to make any more broken bodies ourselves. to remember, in the end, that this broken body means our own broken bodies made whole.

and when you gather together, Jesus says, the lovely and the unlovely. the rich and the poor. the in and the out. the light and the dark skin. do it knowing that you are doing it, in some mysterious way, in Him. do it knowing that, somehow, His broken body makes our unity possible. that our meeting together in peace is only possible in the One in whose name alone there is Peace.

“peace I leave with you,” Jesus says, according to john’s gospel, as He was saying His goodbyes. “My peace I give to you. not as the world gives do I give to you.”

apparently He thought the word peace needed clarification.

this kind of Peace. not that kind.

not the kind of peace that comes in armored trucks. with guns and barking dogs, teeth bared. not the kind of peace that says, in a voice that comes from behind a face shield, ‘this is for your own safety.’

not the kind of peace that means you surrendering your will to mine.

not the kind of peace that’s an idea, the way to which is anyone’s best guess, but the kind of Peace that is embodied. the Peace that comes in a baby’s soft, penetrable skin and leaves with scars in its hands.

the kind of Peace that will one day wipe away every tear. will set every broken bone. on that day when there will be no more mourning. no more pain. the kind of Peace that remembers our broken bodies, even when we do our best to forget or ignore or explain them away.

come, Lord Jesus, come. and may You have mercy on us all.