For at least four reasons that I can think of off of the top of my head, using bready bread – leavened bread – yeast bread – for eucharist is a matter of some importance for me. I don’t have time to get into that today, but hopefully in a later post. The point is, I have been generally opposed to wafers as the “bread” element for a long time now.
After some unreasonable hoping that the Episcopal church I was visiting this morning would run contrary to type, and that the rector would somehow produce a full loaf of challah from the sleeve of her robe, I found myself watching her lift up the large round wafer and thinking to myself, “this could be a deal-breaker.”
I have spent some time now not particularly expecting God to show up in worship, so that might be what opened me to be so thoughtlessly cheeky about the sacrament. Or perhaps God has just become that small to me that I thought I could predict or even dictate when and where I might feel God’s presence. Or maybe I am just an ordinary broken human being who, like anyone else, is riddled with hubris.
At the rail, I could not wait to get the wafer into my mouth, to let it melt there and to think about Christ and the medieval desire to honor him by making sure that not a crumb of his body might be lost between the floorboards. When a priest came around with the cup and saw that my upturned hands were empty, he began to tip the cup towards me, and I drank – perhaps for only the second or third time. “The cup which we share…” The wine, so unfamiliar at the feast to this Methodist, burst on my palate as if welcoming me home to a place I had never seen – a foretaste of the kingdom, a reminder of the already and the not yet that is this time between the times. I leapt back from the rail and managed to make my unsteady way back to my seat; thought of pulling out a kneeler, but didn’t know whether it was allowed at this point in the service. And then I burst into tears as I felt God clearly articulate to me, “Did you think that I could not show up for you here?”
After a couple of words to the rector, I decanted myself some decaf and made my way to the car. I felt so unworthy, so impossibly beyond redemption. And at the same time, so near to God – reminded that my second greatest sin (after the first of thinking I no longer need to be redeemed) is the idea that I cannot be.