From Rev. Sonny R. Graves, pastor at New Spirit UCC, who posted this on Facebook last week during a pilgrimage to the U.S./Mexico border with the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans. Sonny draws from the writing of Mary Luti.
Early morning over here in Arizona. The sky is lighting behind the range of majestic blue outline of the mountains. The summer night is warm, deep, and dry just like this Californian loves it to be. The systemic racism and anti-immigrant violence of my country and government further revealed here is feeling beyond words right now. It is heartbreaking. And we have been reminded many times throughout the trip it is also our responsibility that if our privilege or ignorance or unknowing has been disturbed – it is up to us to change it together.
This Sunday many of our UCC churches will take communion… and the words of Pastor Mary Luti’s from a few weeks ago have been rolling through my mind as we are exposed to the violence of the southern border:
But Christians are the only ones who take communion. Only Christians step over bodies they maimed with machetes to receive the Body of Christ. Only Christians pray at the table, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Only Christians exchange Christ’s Peace, hear the words, “The Body of Christ”, extend their hands for bread, and say, “Amen.”
But you don’t have to kill or want to kill to make communion a sham. You just have to receive the Body as if it has nothing to do with actual bodies. You just have to regard communion as a “spiritual experience” untethered to earth.
Jesus gave us bread to eat, saying, “This is my body.” He wasn’t being spiritual. We commune with a real body that was tortured and slain. We’re meant to discern it, to eat it, and by our eating vow, “No more.”
Communion has many different meanings, but in these violent days the broken bread must at least be our way of declaring, “One broken body is enough.” (By Mary Luti)
This is to say I hope when I eat of that body and blood of our Jesus – I remember it was a body executed by the forces and methods of an empire to instill punishment, fear, and despair especially against communities that were vulnerable and resistant to the abuse of power. I hope when I eat of that body I remember it was a body of immense, extravagant, freeing hope in the midst of that pain and fear. It was a body that recognized the outcasting and oppression that kept bodies from a table together as beloved and took those barriers down. That drew the most unlikely and divided people towards each other to pray, be nourished, and know what God’s purpose and path for them was.
May we embody that same faith too. That same joy. That same hope. The same persistent reach towards justice. May we eat and know that one broken body is enough – and figure out ways to intercede in the breaking where you are. May we know all are beloved, made in the divine image, and that God’s love has no borders. Amen?