A Time to Embrace the Tension
Last month I mentioned a hike…a pilgrimage that I have taken and led a number of times. The experience puts you in a place that I usually avoid. It is a place of wrestling with the tension we desparately try to eliminate. The trip is both brutal and beautiful, emotionally and physically taxing, familiar and unique, solitary and communal.
It is one way to experience the highs and lows of life in a week…highs that our routine numbs us to and lows that we are told by folk theologians and pop philosophers that we shouldn’t feel if we were doing it right.
After four days of carrying our burdens and sharing each others’…four days where everything you need crammed in your pack…four days of sleeping on the ground…four days of listening, sharing, laughing, praying, shivering and sweating, we come to my favorite place in the world to share the Lord’s Supper.
I usually talk about a pattern we see in scripture.
- Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. (Mark 6:41 NIV)
- While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26 NIV)
- And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:27-31 NIV)
The first half of the pattern we really like to think about. The second half, not so much. But Jesus makes clear in several key places that following Him involves being; Taken, Blessed, Broken, and Given.
We stand in a circle flanked by 2500 year old pictographs and a balancing rock with high canyon walls in front and behind us. We are as far away from our ruts and routines as possible and I ask the other pilgrims a question. “Which word resonates with you right now?”
Each admission is thoughtful and heartfelt. Each one a window into a man’s season of life and the activity of God in him. Communion is an opportunity to step out of our routines and remember the seasons of the Christian life. This week, resist the temptation to shift your heart and mind into neutral and embrace the tension. Take time and consider the words Taken, Blessed, Broken, and Given. Which one resonates with you?