We live in a broken world. Broken families, broken relationships, and broken human systems all create fundamentally broken people. Broken people bring all of their brokenness into the church. Instead of wishing that people wouldn’t do that, I insist that it is a good thing. It is a good thing because the church ought to be the one place where broken people can begin to make sense of their lives within the grace of Christian community. That means that community is not always pretty and shiny but, well, messy. And it isn’t just the “outsiders” who bring in their problems. There are plenty of problems to go around in the folks who are “lifers” at your church. Chronically neurotic parents raise kids full of false guilt; people who are never pleased seem to make everyone around them unhappy; unpredictable neighbors, bosses, and co-workers foster environments where others constantly walk on eggshells not quite knowing if they will get hugged or slugged. In short, we all have some degree of damaged lives and emotions as both victims and perpetrators.
The best place of healing for every person is at the Lord’s Table. That’s right. Communion is a sacrament, a sacred event, in which the worshiper can find more than just a reminder of Christ’s death – he or she can find the grace of healing from all the damage. The Table brings one face to face with the cross of Jesus. The past act of Christ’s crucifixion has settled the sin issue once for all. To put it another way: there is healing in Jesus Christ.
In the cross God demonstrated his total identification with us in our own suffering. Our healing is found in the spiritual reality that just as we may have been victims of another, so Christ was the ultimate victim who did not deserve the punishment he got from all the people with all their broken ways. It was unjust. But the good news is that God has justified the believer by sheer grace. Jesus is our Wounded Healer. On the cross God in Christ has absorbed the world’s brokenness and our painful feelings into his love.
Therefore, we ought to come to the Table with joy and find both hope and healing. The Lord’s Supper is not just some ritual to go about doing every so often in order to be obedient – Communion is a powerful means of grace that God uses to heal and nurture. As we take and eat of the bread, and drink of the cup, from Christ’s broken body and shed blood we receive healing and wholeness for our own brokenness. By faith we eat and drink to receive God’s forgiveness and love into both body and soul.
If this chance at spiritual and emotional healing sounds too good to be true, you have grasped the meaning of grace. If Communion can play such an important and significant place in the lives of people, maybe we all need to re-think the practice of only doing it occasionally or once a month. I don’t know of any church board that would be okay with a pastor only preaching and praying once a month in a worship service, so why are we okay with Communion once a month? We are okay with it because we don’t typically think of the Table as the place of healing and spiritual health.
It is, I believe, high time we allow the sharing of the Table to not only inform us, but form us into the people that God wants us to be. The Lord’s Supper brings us back to the centrality of God’s redemption through Jesus Christ, and to the means to which true healing comes: the cross. So, may the Table of Christ not only remind you of the cross, but change you, transform you, and reform you as you participate with God’s people in a ritual that brings life.