October 9, 2013

Shutting Down the Strong

More than once in the last fourteen days, I’ve thought about the curious juxtaposition of the Lord’s table and our government’s shutdown. The federal closure is all over the news, so that spectacle is hard to miss. Between our inter-generational module on “the Eucharist” and our recent Sunday morning sermons on the same, our communion around the Lord’s generous meal has also been in the foreground of our fellowship.

I suppose that juxtaposition offers at least this good news: Amid the boneheadedness of a stalled legislature, not to mention the crippling complexities of ordering our overly-complicated national financial house, I find myself grateful for space and time around a table that is neither bankrupt or impenetrable. At this table, there is always enough for all who are hungry for a new world. At this meal, no one is turned away who discerns his living body in the faces all around them. That’s good news. Fling open the doors.

Not so in the District. It would seem that there is not enough to go around these days, at least not enough to do everything our elected voices want done. With scarcity in the air, actual or perceived, everything is log jammed. And no one dare flinch in compromise, lest someone think them weak. Weakness costs votes come booth time.

All the while, back at home, we are an odd community made up of odd persons who are led by an odd kind of political figure: one that comes to our proud times in the weakness of our injured flesh and who makes power known in the shame of government execution. This leader forms a new party by, of all things, transforming a routine religious meal into a feast for a new community with a new commandment. His simple supper humbles the strong and raises up the weak. It is a dinner that celebrates God’s once-and-for-all election, not our various re-election schemes. So while National Park rangers and federal meat inspectors spent Sunday morning counting on two hands the unwanted days off from work, students of Jesus all around the world broke sweet bread and gave thanks for an underlying human unity marked by Pittsburgh’s own “World Communion Sunday.”

Yellowstone remains closed. For all we know, Old Faithful is turned off at the spigot. And down in D.C. they are trying to figure out how to tame a spending geyser that tops a stunning $3,600,000,000,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the table of a risen Jew remains open.
Let us give thanks for such a fount of New Faithfulness.