Shared with us by Brad Burton and Amber Burton

The bread and the wine came to me


During Holy Week, I attended a sunset Good Friday service at a large, outdoor pavilion in The Woodlands (it's a far north Houston burb, for you non-Texans). As the biblical account of Jesus’ passion was read, three wooden crosses were erected on the hill above the amphitheater, and I watched quietly from my seat. There were hundreds already seated with me, waiting for the evening of worship to begin – and hundreds more beyond us on the hill.

Communion was offered, but I couldn’t see from my vantage point who was serving the bread and the cup, or how. There didn’t seem to be a line, just lots of folks packed shoulder to shoulder about a hundred yards away. I thought of getting up – I wanted to participate – but picking up my stuff and moving seemed to be too much trouble, and I was alone, with no one to save my spot for me until I returned. By the time I thought better of it, the crowd on the hill began to disperse, and I imagined the ad hoc offering of bread and wine was done.

While the sun set and the stage was readied, two women walked by – one carrying a large, torn round of bread in a basket, and the second a chunky, clay-fired cup. The person seated behind me stopped them, and asked them to serve the elements to her and to her husband, and they did –right there on the aisle, stage right. I wanted to ask, too, but I felt suddenly shy – like it might have been too much of a bother to stop them again.

“The body of Christ,” the bread lady whispered to them, then “the blood of the covenant,” murmured the woman with the cup, and they turned to walk away. But as she passed my shoulder, the woman with the loaf stopped wordlessly, and extended it to me. I tore a piece off, and I dipped my bread in the cup. “The body of Christ,” they said to me. “The blood of the new covenant.”

I put the morsel in my mouth – sweet and sour at once – and chewed it slowly. I swallowed, but the lump in my throat remained, and my eyes stung with tears. I had wanted that moment, but perhaps not enough to climb the hill and fumble for it. I had wanted it, but I didn’t seek it out. Instead, the bread and the wine came to me.

That small and silent feast was swallowed up in the words and music that followed – and they were triumphant and glorious. But Good Friday for me was this: the realization that, when I wanted them most, needed them most, and expended no effort to receive them at all, the bread and the wine came to me. And so did He.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions made us alive together with Christ…for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8, NASB)

© Leigh McLeroy 2005

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