Broken and Poured Out

February 21, 2011 | 16 comments

I lift the wine bottle to the lip of a pottery cup.

A torrent of flowing ruby fills the reservoir, and I know there are people who would grimace at what we’re about to do. Strange, they say. Even cannibalistic.

My mind flips through the gold-lined pages, lands on red letters in John 6. I find my place in the crowd at a Capernaum synagogue and listen to the Teacher’s words. Some will call this a “hard teaching.”

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

I imagine a collective gasp in the crowd.

On an Iowa farm, a solitary crimson tear slides down the side of a pottery cup. I catch treasure with my finger — one drop of life-giving liquid — and bring it to my mouth.

I taste life, and remember disciples standing nearby in the synagogue. Jesus asked if they were offended. Is He asking me, too?

That day, many of them left, no longer following him.

I don’t move.

***

One day in Sunday school, we read those verses in John 6 together. My husband spoke of the disciples: “Following Him is becoming more difficult.” I write my husband’s words in the margin of John 6, a holy Note-To-Self.

The next words are Jesus’ words, in red: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” These words, I think, are written for me. I am in the synagogue again, and I think He’s looking straight into my being. My heart pledges my allegiance, but — two-faced heart that it is — I know I will deny the authority of Christ again and again.

Jesus knows it, too. I still don’t move, feet on synagogue floor as some walk away. And I make another note: He lets me stay.

***

I grab the loaf, cleaving it until its torn clean through.

This is when I remember a table in Emmaus, where eyes recognized the Risen Christ only when the bread was broken. “Did not our heart burn?” they asked.

I lay ripped bread on a plate, open it partway like a hungry mouth.

My heart burns, too.

I carry the cup and plate to the table ringed with friends. And we, the weary and the ransomed, take and eat.

***

Today, at TheHighCalling.org, we continue our discussion of the book “The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers and Feasting and Fasting Toward God.”

This week’s essays reminded me of a communion we shared with friends one Saturday evening around our kitchen table. The communion cup and plate were birthday gifts from my husband.

“I am ravenous for the food dealt out in wafer and wine, in the circle of the loving presence of Christ, with others who are also starving for this inner nourishment, the kind that finally assures me of an unconditional love.”
— Luci Shaw from her “Soul Food” essay in “The Spirit of Food.”

Even if you haven’t read the book, you’re welcome to join in the conversation here, or over there are TheHighCalling.org.

by | February 21, 2011 | 16 comments

16 Comments

  1. Nancy

    Jesus knows it too. Those few words, for me, amplify how good and kind Jesus was to give us these signs and symbols and invite us to do these things in remembrance of Him. Because I, too, forget and am prone to wander.

    Reply
  2. Laura

    Oh, Jennifer, this is so beautiful. What an extraordinary gift your husband gave you in the communion cup and plate–for an extraordinary remembering. These essays on the Eucharist tendered my heart so to this tradition. How many times do I drink the cup and taste the bread without my heart prepared. Yes–the road to Emmaus…heart-burning…that's where I want to be. So glad to remember with you.

    Reply
  3. Lori

    Beautiful. Your skill with words paints a wonderful picture and speaks to my heart. Following Christ is not easy and often looks strange if not downright bizarre to outsiders. Those of us inside often forget how confusing and odd these words of Jesus were to us too at one time. Thanks for the reminder.
    Keep up the God work.

    Reply
  4. Beth E.

    Holy Communion is one of my favorite times. It has such a powerful impact whenever someone hands me the elements and says, "The body of Jesus, broken for you," or "The blood of Jesus, shed for you."

    This is a beautiful post, Jennifer. I wish I could participate in the study with you!

    Reply
  5. Glynn

    If we are one with him, if the church is his bride and one with him, does this mean we are to live our lives broken and poured out?

    I think it does.

    Reply
  6. RCUBEs

    He did it first…His body broken and His blood poured out so we can be free!

    This is not the first trial I'm in…I knew the difficulty if I chose not to be broken…And I would rather choose to be broken and my life be poured out than remain an intact vessel full of selfishness.

    Thank you sister for your precious prayers. Knowing His faithfulness, I have no fear wherever He takes me. God bless. BTW, such a beautiful gift from your hubby!

    Reply
  7. A Simple Country Girl

    I lay ripped on the plate and opened my hungry mouth.

    *beautiful telling, Jennifer.

    Blessings.

    Reply
  8. ~ linda

    The word "inscribing" is on the tip of my tongue … and it does not fit into the sentence I had formed for this comment. Inscribing … He is inscribing these words of John 6 upon my heart. They are a "hard teaching" and I want to learn and don't want to walk away. I, too, don't move, but know that I could and, most likely, will.
    Your words have captivated my attention too. Thank you, ~ linda

    Reply
  9. Lyla Lindquist

    Haven't had a chance to read this week's essays yet. You make me want to.

    Read this early today, a few times since and it's stayed with me all day. I don't really have anything to put out here, just thank you for it.

    Reply
  10. Cassandra Frear

    We need to be hungry for God. But too often we aren't. Why it that?

    Reply
  11. Thoughts for the day

    This is really beautiful and so real… fresh and moving. thank you

    Reply
  12. Charity Singleton

    This is the passage I thought of this week as well – this hard teaching. Would I have continued to follow? Would the 12 (or at least the 11) continued to follow had their been an attractive alternative? Peter himself said, "Where else are we going to go?"

    Your cup and plate are so beautiful. I love that you all incorporate the eucharist into your home. I continue to be really caught up in the specialness of it that I miss the ordinariness of it. It's something the Lord is teaching me, I believe.

    Reply
  13. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Charity — I'll be thinking on your words about Peter for a while. I've read and re-read those passages, and never considered that piece. You're enriching my study.

    Reply
  14. Paul

    Jennifer

    Thanks for beautiful word pictures and pictures. Regardless of whether it's the Lord's Supper, Communion, The Eucharist, the celebration is the key.

    I have long felt that in our hyper active, over programmed churches, that communion sometimes takes a backseat to other activities.

    Thanks for the reminder that it belongs in the forefront of our worship of and relationship with Christ.

    And also, thanks for reminding, indirectly, that the meeting around the Lord's Table is not limited to Sunday morning, presided over by the pastor. Acts 2;42

    Paul W

    Reply
  15. Stephani

    Powerful. That's all I can say, just powerful.

    Reply
  16. Connie Mace

    I can never read JESUS' question without tears…Oh LORD, where would I go?? Only You have words of eternal life…thank you for this GOD breathed reminder

    Reply

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