In Eucharist we have to face a table of great violence.
Flesh torn. A body broken in pain.
The table is not made of wood. It is carved out of betrayal, cruelty, torture, and, finally, the violent taking of a life.
Relax. We'll get this mess cleaned up.
A bit of cracker. A sip of juice. And all this to uplifting words and music that can help pull our thoughts away from the gruesome table and back to happier things. Maybe Jesus smiling at the happy children. We like that one.
It is pretty foolish anyone would think we'd want to actually participate in body and blood. Miraculous bread, sure. Some instant healings, maybe. We can even think nostalgically about a hill called Mount Calvary. But hold the blood, if you don't mind.
Even our crosses, when we have to look at them in church, are pretty. Just nice clean shapes. That's all. No writhing figure of a man hanging in agony. Who wants to look at that in worship? The Catholics can have Him, We'll just take the pretty empty cross. We'll cherish it, instead. Maybe we'll exchange it one day for a crown.
There is an odd contradiction here. As the church enjoys a musical accompanied well run uplifting Eucharist, we find ourselves becoming more violent. Many are armed. When angry, we strike out with words so sharp we know the edges cut deep into soft tissue. We may turn the other cheek once. But we're really hoping whoever has struck us will do it just one more time. Then we can strike back with enough damage they'll think twice before ever messing with us again. We obey Jesus and get to hurt people who deserve it. The best of both worlds.
We gather to worship as smiling angry people, rejecting old bloody tables and crucifixes, but accepting the violence of the world we see and do everyday. And, in worship, we want to sing how great it is be loved just the way we are.
It would work, too. Except for that Table.
Take this bread. Flesh.
Take this cup. Blood.
Take it. All of you.
The murderous unspeakable violence men visited upon me.
The murderous unspeakable violence men continue to visit upon one another.
Take this yoke: Peacemakers among warmakers
I know. You cannot bear the weight of it cutting into your shoulders.
Not so heavy.
A table in the presence of my enemies.
A table in the presence of your enemies.
And would you look at that now.
Your cup is running over.