Theology and Me, II
Theology and Me, Part 2
As I embark on my second foray with theology I want to affirm that I do not pretend to be anything but a beginner, a neophyte when it comes to all things spiritual and theological. I, like you, am on a journey of self discovery and Divine discovery, which hopefully will translate into a deeper desire and ability to love God and love others while being and becoming the unique, one-of-a-kind creation God created me to be and become.
So, as I once again share my theological perspectives with you, I remind you that I do not do so as an expert. I do not do so to convince you of the veracity of my belief. Rather, I share my heartfelt belief with you hoping that it might encourage you to think through your own theology and seek to conceptualize what you believe.
In my musing sent out at the beginning of this month I shared that when all is said and done, my theology boils down to a simple truth and belief that is captured in and communicated by two ordinary everyday items. These two items have and continue to express, embody and mediate the presence of God to me.
Some might refer to these items as symbols but they are more than mere symbols, for they communicate more than a symbolic representation of truth. These items communicate a mystery beyond words, beyond image and beyond symbol. These two items invite me into wonder, mystery, thanksgiving, gratitude, hope and love. They loudly and clearly declare to me the twin truths of the transcendence and incarnation of God and serve as a reminder that the ordinary can be a window, a doorway to the Divine. They serve as a reminder to me of the clothing of the Divine in the ordinary, a Savior wrapped in flesh and blood – Emmanuel, God is with me.
The items I refer to are a loaf of bread and a cup of wine. It is through these two items that I experience the reality of God in a way that defies explanation, a way beyond words and in some sense beyond the very items themselves. At the Lord’s Table, in the bread and the cup, God embraces me even as I embrace God. I am comforted, encouraged, loved and even challenged by the bread and the cup. I am filled with thanksgiving and gratitude as I receive the bread and drink from the cup. I find myself lingering at the Table, savoring the elements. I pause to drink in the experience, remembering that Jesus first shared this meal with His disciples and now He shares it with me, a sharing of His very self - His body, His blood given up for me, for the world.
Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, whatever you call it, has always been special to me. It is a special time and place to meet, experience, and be with God…even when it was tagged on at the end of the service as nothing more than a mere afterthought (this will be the subject of my July 1st musing). In my tradition we were taught that the bread and the wine (actually grape juice) were symbols used to help us remember the passion of Jesus. But for me communion has been more than that. It has been a place of communion with God. It has always been more than a Table of remembrance. It has been a Table of presence; a place when one enters into the Holy of Holies and experiences the richness and transforming power of God’s presence, of God's love.
In the last few years this Table has become even more precious and meaningful to me, for it was at the Lord’s Table that I was able to experience the undeniable grace and graciousness of God after the death of my son. It was at the Lord’s Table that God and I stood together, united in our sorrow over a son lost and rejoicing in the hope of an empty tomb. It was in the breaking of bread that I saw Jesus embrace the broken body of my son. It was in the cup that I experienced the power of love, a power greater than death itself.
Today, as Father’s Day approaches, I recall the cup and the bread and I have hope, and even more extraordinary, I experience thanksgiving and gratitude for a God who is with me in my sorrow. A God, loving, caring and powerful, who stands knowingly beside me and gently reminds me once again that death does not have the last word.
So, there you have it, the sum total of my theology is this: Christ crucified, Christ resurrected – a loaf of bread and a cup of wine. That is the theological hook upon which I hang my hat.
Below I have included a “poem” I wrote after taking communion following the death of my son.
Cup and Bread
crippled my spirit
ravaged my soul