This reflection is the sixth in our Lenten series, “First-Person Faith.” Read more about the Collegeville Institute’s first-person approach to theological discourse in our introduction to the series.
From my perch, I observe the movement. As the lines form, I see Patrick and Bart step into line with their teenage son. I see my own son, all spindly legs and afro wild, in his favorite blue Hawaiian-print shirt. I see Tom maneuvering his motorized chair to the front to make himself available to speak a blessing upon anyone who asks. I see little Elliot, energy broiling, waiting impatiently for this to be over so he can play his toy saxophone along with the band. I see a family of five, ready to head up to the mountains right after this to catch the last glimpse of the golden aspens before they shed their leaves for the season. I see Julie and Jeanine, a year of marriage under their belt, holding hands as they patiently wait their turn. I see Jeff and Nancy, each with one hand on a taper candle, lighting two tea lights—always two. I see seven-year-old Quincy light a candle for his Grandad, his namesake and kindred spirit, who’s fighting cancer.
Together, alone, coupled, as families: I see them all come. I see them fidget in line, nervous there might be a secret phrase they’re supposed to know when they get to the front. I see them smiling and quietly laughing as they ask each other about the weekend.
I see them cup their hands together, ready to receive a piece of the bread which has been torn off and placed in their palm. I hear the words “body of Christ, broken for you” murmured over and over from six different places in the room. I see them dip their small piece into the cup, as “blood of Christ, shed for you” is added to the mild cacophony. I see tears from some who have never before been allowed to partake. I see tears from the bread-and-cup bearers as they recite the words over and over again, becoming conduits of God to each and every person who approaches. Some are friends or acquaintances. Some are perfect strangers to each other—perhaps strangers with whom they can’t imagine having anything else in common.
Because I’m one of the musicians helping to create the ambiance of this moment, it’s rare that I ever personally taste the soft bread or tangy drink. I’m always an observer, though I feel the sacredness of the moment acutely in the diversity of faces, seeking with open hands and open mouths a chance to taste God. Louder than anything the band could play is the resounding thrum of God’s voice saying, “You are welcome here. You belong here. You belong to me.” The barriers of qualifications are lifted; every week at the table, families, partners, individuals, believers, and seekers are able to taste and see that God is good.