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The Broken Supper

Last Sunday was the first Sunday evening meeting for Trinity Church Greenville, the church plant Austin and I are grateful to serve. I had great visions of how our first meeting would go, how prepared I would be, how ordered all the details would look. Particularly, I was excited to be baking a loaf of homemade bread for our first communion together; it felt just perfect and ceremonial enough for this season and this meeting. I fed my starter and smiled to myself; I kneaded the dough and whispered a prayer of blessing. And then I set it on my counter and forgot to bake it until it was too late. The local grocer’s store-brand $1.99 white loaf would have to do.

With the realization that my plans had failed, I felt the familiar pang of inadequacy and self-disappointment. Why hadn’t I managed my time better? Why did I commit to doing too many things that day? Why am I always like this? Why can’t I be better and do better?

So many familiar flaws were apparent. My own human brokenness was evident. I am limited, and limited is not what I want to be.

As we finished our time of study in the Word, Austin rounded the bend to communion. As he recited the familiar words of the apostle Paul, I pulled out the communion plate. A $1.99 loaf of bread, perfectly white, perfectly and commercially formed. Better than I could have done, and yet still a reminder of the things I had left undone.

“This is my body, broken for you.” 

I tore the loaf in two, placing it back on the plate so that it was easy for the church to tear and dip.

And in that crust-cracking moment, I was reminded what the Supper is all about. It’s always been about brokenness. It’s never been flashy or sexy or polished. The bread and the wine meal of remembrance has always been about broken things and broken people — His brokenness that meets ours with grace.

I read somewhere in a book about ministry: the grain must be broken so that the bread might be broken to meet our brokenness with the presence of Christ.

Praise the Lord that He doesn’t expect us to come ready, chests-puffed out. He expects us to come flawed and fallen, limping and weary to the Table — and there, to feast. His brokenness is the nourishment for all of our sickness, all of our want, all of our hunger. The bread on our lips is the filling our our souls’ hunger-grumblings, and the feast for the rejoicing heart. Because Christ was broken on our behalf, broken people are met with the grace of God — in ordinary extraordinary ways like a $1.99 store-brand loaf of white bread, cracked open on a communion table, and ripped again and again by eager believers remembering their Lord.

This is what it means to remember Christ. It’s the confession of our fragile, fallen form before the glorious God of the universe who became fragile and bore our fallenness. It’s the open mouth, the hungry heart, the dipping hand that remembers at the Table the entirety of the Gospel, takes it in with joy, and swallows the blessing whole.