I’m sixteen, and this morning I was made fun of again for leaving a sleepover early to go to church. I’ve been internalizing my “friends'” words and feeling my self-worth going down each moment I sit in the pew. Then I walk to the communion rail, kneel, and hear the words “This is my body. . . This is my blood.” I’m reminded why I’m here. Why I continue to come here even as my peers mock my faith: because this is where Christ is found and the only place I desire to be.
I’m seventeen, and my grandmother has passed away followed quickly by two friends from high school. The weight of grief and death has been heavy on my shoulders, and I’ve been crying frequently. I kneel at the rail and am reminded that in this meal, my grandmother and all the saints who have passed are feasting with me. I’m strengthened in my desire to spread the Gospel so that all can share in this feast eternally.
I’m eighteen, and I sit in the pew feeling disgusting and out of place because of what was done to me the night before. I can’t hear the words of the sermon over the voices in my head saying I don’t belong here with all these pristine and Godly people. But then I’m forced out of my thoughts when I have to physically walk to the altar. I kneel. I hear the words. As I chew the body, before the blood even touches my lips, I can feel the tears forming. “Shed for you . . .” rings in my head. I’m still numb, but right now, God is the only one who knows what happened to me. Gradually, with each Lord’s Supper, I’m reminded I can one day forgive the one who made me feel this way. It wasn’t my fault. Christ loves me. I am clean. I am made new.
I’m nineteen, and I help my grandfather pick up the bulletin he dropped . . again. His Parkinson’s makes it difficult to hold onto it. His dementia makes him feel more and more lost. I’ve been trying to help him through the service but his eyes are glassy, and he feels so far away. I’m beginning to wonder why we bother bringing him when the pastor walks up, calls him by name, and places the wafer in his mouth. He drinks the wine, and I hear his voice say “Amen.” He smiles. I’m overwhelmed by the realization that even as his body deteriorates, God is preserving his soul; there is more to this life than what I can see with my eyes.
I’m twenty, and I screwed up again. I can’t get anything right. I recite the confession feeling more “poor and miserable” than I ever have. Pastor says the absolution, and I want so desperately to believe it as I have before. But today it feels like simply words spoken to a group of people I stumbled into. Until I eat and drink and hear those words “for the forgiveness of sins.” This is real. This is for me. He died for me.
I’m twenty-one, and I’m terrified. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t want to face tomorrow. But then, with wine fresh on my breath I’m told to “depart in peace.” And peace overwhelms me. I don’t know what the future holds, but God’s promises are all I have to cling to. My salvation is secure. This is most certainly true.
This is what the Lord’s Supper means to me. It’s peace. It’s a real, tangible encounter with Christ and all that He promises. Even on the days that don’t feel “significant” enough to recount, I know the body and blood is at work in my heart, regardless of my feelings. This is a profound mystery. One I cannot comprehend with my own reason. And yet it happens with or without my perfect understanding. It only needs repentance and faith to lay hold of it. I only have that faith because Christ first laid hold of me. He snatched me from the jaws of death and sin and holds me firm in this sacrament. When my mind is weary, when my body is tired and abused, my soul feasts on His Mercy and Grace. When everything I see, hear, and touch, the entire reality around me is clouded by fear and pain, this light shines fiercely in the darkness. When my doubts threaten to drag me back into my own sinful grave, Christ takes my hand, places it in His side, and bids me to believe. To believe in the promise he’s placed in these simple physical means. And so I feast at this meal. With one bite and one sip, my soul feasts. And by God’s Grace I will keep coming back, starving, as I am hungry and thirsty for Christ.