Resurrection Day 2016

dali-crucifixionUnexpectedly volunteering to serve communion with Darah at the Resurrection Day gathering of the Simple Church Alliance network. Can’t remember acting in this capacity before. Starting to think right away about what words I might say as people come up to receive the elements. There’s that passage in Corinthians somewhere about not being unworthy, but I can’t remember it well enough. Maybe the more traditional “the body of Christ, broken for your sins…”, but I can’t really recall exactly how that one goes either, and I’m not much for formulaic incantations anyway.

Realize there’s a bit of pride in the mix, wanting to seem competent and experienced at something I don’t really have any experience with. Figure I’ll just say or not say as the Lord leads. Say a quick prayer to that effect and leave it with Him as Darah and I start tearing the bread up into pieces…

His body, broken for my sins. His body here in my hands, being torn apart afresh so that it might be distributed to each of us here today. My hands, willingly, casually, efficiently rending skin from bone, muscle from sinew. My sin, my selfish choice, chosen so easily and unthinkingly, chosen so harshly and consciously — met immediately, consistently, and without fail by His great love, His selfless choice, made with full awareness of the cost…

Darah holds the plate of bread, I hold the cup of grape juice, and folks start to come over. Trying to look each one in the eye and smile, be welcoming, inviting them to this holy, profound ritual. Mostly, though, I’m just watching their hands, small and large, young and old, rough, worn, smooth, white, brown…

So many hands raised in anger against Him. “Crucify him! Crucify him!” My hands lifted in defiance, in rage. Who does he think he is, to tell me how to live? I will not have this man rule over me. None of us will. People here from all over the world, united in our hatred for this holy fool, this would-be king. I can’t grab the nails fast enough. You grab the hammer, and we’ll make short work of this clown. My hands and yours, willingly and efficiently raised together to murder this prince of peace…

Darah is saying “God bless you” to someone. I try to think of something helpful to insert, since I’m just sort of standing here, a grinning idiot. My mind isn’t working well. Thoughts are sluggish and tears stand out in my eyes as I’m watching the line of penitents filing past the bread and the cup. White bread in each hand turning deep purple as the pieces are dipped into the cup, over and over…

The guards are done with him now, and they’re marching him up to the Skull. My hands itched for the lead-tipped whip so that I might silence him myself, once and for all. I wholeheartedly approve of the job they’ve done. The sooner this is over the with, the sooner I can get back to my own life. I can see the little procession coming around the corner here near you and I. They’re walking slowly. He’s in bad shape, worse than I recall seeing before. He raises his head and looks right at me, looks right into me…

Folks just keep coming. Don’t remember there being so many people here today. As if the whole world is here, come begging for bread and wine. I’m tired, and even feel a little shaky, even though I’m just standing here. And so many children! Here’s a little fellow who swipes three or four pieces of bread and greedily soaks each in the cup, slurping up as much of each as he can…

…and I see myself through His eyes: A beloved child lost in darkness, trapped within a black wave of inescapable selfishness, pride, lust, vindictiveness, covetousness, a crushing surf that beats against me relentlessly and slowly pulls me under into death. A cherished child slipping beneath lukewarm inky water I would otherwise drown in, if it weren’t for…a hand, His hand, reaching through the darkness and pulling me out from under the crushing weight. His arms open wide to lift my lifeless body onto His strong back, criss-crossed with scars and bent to carry me. I feel His blood and sweat dripping from His forehead onto my hands…

Line finally thinning a bit. Folks trailing off to go outside. Bit of a lump in my throat. Still can’t find my voice. Our little friend returns for more bread, and he is welcome to it! There is no end to this abundance, His abundance. I serve him, and serve Him, with shaking hands and words form in my heart: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” I don’t have breath enough to say them but they echo until my ears ring and my heart swells with them to bursting, my silent, deafening chorus of praise.

Hours must have passed in what seemed a moment. The sky is dark. Somewhere close I hear a voice, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” We look at one another and know that something, maybe even you and I, has been forever changed. Somewhere a curtain has been opened, and light floods into the darkness, eradicating it as if it never was; heaven’s light replacing earth’s shadow, His heart’s light filling the emptiness of my own, His timeless perfect provision doing in an instant what man’s perennially unsuccessful striving never could.

–   ⚜   –

How can I speak about this miracle? There are not words enough in number or in worth to describe how God redeems. All I can say is that I saw it happen today. The filthy hands of the depraved and the pornographer touched His body impurely and came away clean. Envious, murderous, warring fists beat against Him, only to be opened up in peaceful surrender. Empty mouths full of lies and hatred and gossip and slander and vain boasting opened to speak and found voice only to praise Him. Gluttonous, comfort-seeking stomachs ate and drank of Him and were finally filled to complete satisfaction. Minds burdened with inventing wickedness, shackled with disobedience, and darkened with lack of understanding contemplated Him and bloomed with heavenly enlightening. Hollow hearts bereft of faithfulness, love, or mercy filled with His blood and began to beat with His own. Men and women deserving death came to Him with murderous intent and were instead changed through His death into bearers of His undying life.

When the dead come back to life and those who killed the King become the risen King’s trusted and faithful servants, what other wonders might we see?

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3

 

Jeff Herron

Homeschooling dad of two boys. Husband of one terrific woman. Disciple of and disciple maker for Jesus. My cup runneth over!

One thought on “Resurrection Day 2016

  1. I took the bread and drink from your hand on that day, oblivious to the myriad of thoughts sloshing around in your mind and spilling over into your heart. Thank you, my son and brother, for sharing such an amazing experience and doing so with such eloquence and meaning. Truly, we are blessed beyond measure and words. The Word became flesh…perhaps the most significant thing He ever did. In doing so, could He have been saying…”I want to be like you”? Not, of course, in our propensity to flounder and miss the mark; but He wanted to share in our weakness and pain, in our struggles and darkness. In doing so, He did humanity right…what we could never do…proving that the likeness of Father and identity in Christ we possessed pre-fall was restored. Wonder of wonders. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

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