There’s not much worse than those little round, tasteless wafers that are often served for communion. When I eat one of those, I usually get at least briefly distracted from meditating on the great gift of Jesus’ body, being broken for us, and my thoughts run more along the lines of, “Why did I even put this in my mouth? This tastes worse than cardboard. And it’s so tiny… what is the point of this, again?? Gross.”
While I was chewing on one of those wafers recently, the thought struck me that our lazy, self-serving version of Christianity might leave this taste in people’s mouths, too. I can imagine someone thinking, “So tasteless… so tiny. I wish I had never even tried it. What’s the point?! Why subscribe to a doctrine if it makes no difference? Why believe in something that is too small to satisfy my hunger? There is no pleasant or even distinctive flavor to this – it is empty.”
When Christianity is only a title that we put after our names, or a nice club we attend on Sundays, or a statement of belief in God… it is impotent. And when the cross is just a talisman of protection and provision… it only produces self-centered, comfort-seeking people.
If all you have tasted so far is this “wafer” Gospel, then I understand why you are disappointed. But this kind of thin, bland religion is never what Jesus taught or intended.
The kingdom of God is much more like thick slices of warm homemade bread. The real Gospel has lots more to chew on… to savor… to digest.
From now on, let’s serve communion with huge slices of bread and big pitchers of wine. (Or grape juice, depending on your age, tradition, and/or tendency to drink too much!)
Maybe if the communion bread tasted amazing, like real bread, like thick, doughy, fluffy bread that makes you want to close your eyes and sigh when you take a bite, it would remind us of the wonder of the Gospel. The miracle of joy in the middle of pain, the transformation from emptiness to fullness, the adventure of joining something eternal,the freedom in surrender, the mind-bending peace during times of stress… It is everything we have been looking for, and everything we need.
Maybe if communion was a whole meal, with plenty to eat and drink – like it was the first time – it would remind us that there is plenty of grace to handle all of my brokenness, and all of yours, too. That this table is long enough to accommodate anyone who wants a meal, and that this meal is big enough to satisfy our most soul-rumbling hunger. That it is wide enough for prostitutes and cheaters and outcasts, and deep enough to heal my own private brokenness. That this grace is big enough to notice my darkness and to carry light into it. That it is a grace that loved me first – before I even knew there was such a thing as warm, homemade bread.
Maybe if we watched a whole pitcher full of wine pouring into our glasses, we would remember the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. His life. Poured out. For me. And then we might remember, too, that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another… and that following Jesus means becoming like Him. Feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, sharing abundantly from what we have been given. It might remind us that our lives are also to be poured out – not for our own profit or gain, but for the sake of our neighbor. This is no cheap wafer Gospel – this meal cost a life to serve, and if we share in it, it urges a whole-life response.
This is a meal that may cost us. It compels us to admit our deep brokenness and to humbly ask for help. It calls us to a kind of surrender and service that is anything but self-centered or comfort-seeking. It means laying our lives down for an adventure that costs everything we thought we wanted but gains everything we really needed. This is no Sunday morning attendance checkbox!
But it gives us everything. This is the real meal. [Yeah, it’s like the real deal – only this is the real meal. Sorry. Pun intended.]
This is the warm, homemade, whole grain, thick-sliced bread of life. And once you’ve tasted this bread, you won’t be disappointed.