I cry everytime I take communion. Every. Single. Time.
This is not true of me growing up. I was a good little Catholic school girl who grew up knowing the words to Hail Mary before I knew what the constitution was. Every Wednesday we went to Mass before school in our little plaid skirts, snow pants dragging behind. Because West Michigan and well winter for 11 months. My friends and I had no idea what the sacrament of communion really was. We would take our potato chips at lunch time and pretend that we were the priest. Seriously, we were the poster children for the unholiest of the holy and should have been struck down with lightening if not at least tripped on our unlaced K-mart shoes.
Needless to say, I left the Catholic church. Not because I was asked to. But because I needed to find God. I couldn’t find him in the four walls of legalism. I was aching for something but didn’t know what.
Three years ago we felt like God was asking us to move. We assumed he meant the state of Illinois, because he loved us and wants to set his people free or didn’t want us to be landlocked or something like that. So we started looking for jobs in the motherland of Michigan. Job after job fell through. We were left feeling lost and lied to.
Then one Sunday during church it was announced that a decision had been made about a new fundraiser for more and better. We were showing our white privilege card again and it was painful. I stood up in the middle of the service and walked out. I was done. The unsettling of my heart was not to move states it was to leave the church. The building. Not the people.
I think often we make statements like we are “never going to church again” or we don’t “ trust the church”.
Forgetting that Jesus never intended the church to have a stage or four walls, just a table.
He asked us to remove our shoes and join him.
The table of mercy.
The table of grace.
The table of forgiveness.
The table of hearing.
The table of sharing.
The table of receiving.
The table of brokenness.
The table of spilled blood.
The next four months we occasionally went to church. But if I am honest I didn’t want to. I was tired of being a consumer. I ached to be consumed. I ached for a place at the table.
A mentor invited me to a church that was in the beginning stages of planting themselves in the city I lived in. I reluctantly went to an evening worship service. I had heard that before, churches were coming to serve my city, but really they meant the safe neighborhoods, the educated privileged. Not the gang riddled neighborhood I lived in. Not the neighbors struggling to stay in the country, to feed their families, working 4 jobs, on every government service, not those people. We were the city that people did mission trips in.So perhaps I needed to get a chip off my shoulder and just enter in.
What I found that night was PEACE.
I stood in worship overwhelmed with a flood of release. I cried the entire service. I did not know the pastors or anyone else there except for my writing mentor. I just knew I had come home.
“ The fact that our heart yearns for something earth can’t supply is proof that HEAVEN is our home. “ – C.S. Lewis
The last three years have been some of the most difficult years of our lives. Our faith has been beaten, torn and thrown against injustice and pain over and over again.
And yet still, we have found the church.
We have found a community that gathers around the table of Jesus every Sunday. And when I walk forward it is never lost on me what it took to come to this healing place. When I take the cup I imagine Jesus himself saying…. “ For YOU sweet one, this blood was poured….I love you that much” and I whisper in response…. “wash me CLEAN”.
I told my pastor just yesterday to be worried when I don’t cry. I never want to lose the wonder and sacredness of such an overwhelming sacrifice of love. That the table I am invited to. You are invited to a table a church that changes you forever. One that heals. One that gathers. One that holds you. One that forgives. One that washes the shame clean.
I am grateful girl. Grateful for a faith community that is broken and messy and weaved together abundantly with mercy. That is what Jesus called the church. Come closer now, he is aching to sit with you at the table