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.