Roughly once a month I have the privilege of serving communion at Scum of the Earth Church. According to our church’s tradition, I serve with another person and we stand side by side, holding either the bread or the wine. As our fellow Scum come to partake, they break off a piece of bread then dip it in the wine as my fellow servant and I say, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you.” “This is the blood of the Christ, shed for you.”
Sometimes it’s easy for my brain to switch into auto-pilot while serving communion, after uttering “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”, “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” “This is the blood of Christ…” for the tenth or fifteenth time. While my mouth utters, “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” my brain is drinking in all of my surroundings. As my mind slips away, I begin tapping my foot to the beat of the worship band singing behind me. While I stand there, there are wonderfully quirky people to watch, and of course I usually am keeping an eye on who is coming down the communion line, trying to gauge whether or not we grabbed enough bread or gluten free crackers. I become distracted & my brain switches into auto-pilot, causing my mouth to say those same nine words over and over again without actually considering them.
But Sunday as I uttered the phrases of communion and simultaneously people watched, I was caught off guard by something. As I stood there, wine goblet laced in my fingers, some of the liquid dripped off someone’s chunk of bread and drizzled down my fingers before dropping at my feet in the dimly lit room.
This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.
I don’t know why, but that time the words resonated in my soul as I looked into the eyes of a young woman who I’ve never seen before and said them.
Lately I’ve been incredibly guilty of zoning out and auto-piloting my way through life like I do when I serve communion. I wake up, wash up, drive to work, teach my kids, then head from work to potluck/bible study/gospel community/school/home without even thinking about it. At this point, I feel like I could complete my lather-rise-repeat routine in my sleep.
Saturday, a day before the cool wine running down my fingers snapped me out of my proverbial daydream state, I got another wake up call. This last weekend one of my best friends and I decided to road trip to see another friend up in Vail. On an adventurous whim Saturday afternoon, I applied for a summer job as a nanny up in Vail.
Much to my own personal shock, I got an e-mail back almost immediately requesting that I set up a time for a phone interview sometime this week. As I read the e-mail to my girlfriends, I squealed with excitement. Could I really have the opportunity to move from my tiny apartment in the city up into one of the most beautiful cities in Colorado for the summer? This was great! I would get to spend time in my beloved mountains before my move to Texas, I would have an opportunity to be outdoors (and away from the dreaded 100 degree Denver summer heat), and I would be able to have the adventure that I’ve been craving in the midst of my boring daily routine.
And then it hit me.
Holy crap. I am talking about giving up my cute little home that I have worked so hard to make my own, packing all of my stuff into boxes, and shoving them into a storage unit. Not only that, but I would be forfeiting my cherished time off, and the ability to see my friends and family whenever I chose. Am I really willing to do that?
As I sat in my rocking chair in said tiny apartment the next morning, I looked around. I can’t give up all of this. I have my antique book collection, my typewriter, my pictures aligned exactly how I like them, the mural that I painted on my wall… I can’t do it. I can’t give the life I love up. I just can’t.
Just about as quickly as I began to internally panic, the story of the Israelites and their unleavened bread from Exodus popped into my mind.
In Exodus 12, God commands the Israelites to give up leavened bread. He knows that He is about to move mightily amongst the Egyptians through the plague of the first born, and that when Pharaoh releases the Israelites from captivity, that they will need to leave for the Promised Land immediately. They wouldn’t have time to worry about letting their bread rise; they will simply need to worry about following where the Lord was leading them.
As I stood there with the communion glass in my hand with the drops of wine at my feet Sunday night, I looked over at the bowl of bread in my friend’s hand and remembered this story that I had been thinking about just six hours earlier.
Just like the Israelites, I need to follow where God is leading me– regardless of whether that is Vail, Pueblo, Denver, or Dallas… I need to go and I need to be free to do so when the time comes. I need to break free from my restricting (yet oddly comforting) daily routine and follow God instead of staying in my own little safety zone.
So over the next few weeks I’ll be separating my necessities from my clutter and packing up my apartment in faith. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know that it will be beautiful. My Texas born friend insists that “The Great Country of Texas” is the promised land; maybe I need to look for my milk and honey down there… Or maybe I will find it in the Rocky Mountains. Who knows…
All of this to say, for the Lenten Season I am giving up leavened bread in a spiritual pursuit of the “spur of the moment” adventure that I feel God calling me to. My comfort zone is, well comfortable… But I know in the depths of my heart that I want God and His Will for my life far more than I want a comfortable tiny apartment for my bread rise in or a lather-rinse-repeat routine where I accidentally forget to include Him because I’m so wrapped up in my everyday life.
Is God calling you to lay something down for Him, that He might give you something else this Lenten Season?
31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.”