Last week, as we celebrated World Communion Sunday, I thought about how we share and affirm what we as Christians have in common. Our church joins together with other denominations in our community to bridge a street and share in the holy meal together. The City blocks off the street for an hour, and the pastors share the communion liturgy. A giant challah loaf is broken and shared. Our church’s praise team leads the music.
This year a Spanish-language congregation joined us for the first time. While each group’s understanding of communion might vary in certain ways – transubstantiation or consubstantiation of the communion elements, the use of bread vs. wafers, wine vs. grape juice, etc. – we can all agree that Christ instructed us to take the bread and the cup in remembrance of Him. (Luke 22:19)
Likewise, we are all created in the image of God. Now, none of us know what God looks like. We don’t even know if God is female or male, or neither. I believe God is bigger than that. We say that God is perfect, but what does that mean? What is a perfect body? Do we know what is perfect in God’s mind?
Just as we all come to the communion table with our own disparate ideas of what the holy meal means, so I think we live our lives with our human idea of what “wholeness” and “perfection” mean. God has His (or Her) own idea of perfection and wholeness for each of our lives. (How I wish we could come up with a perfect, individual pronoun for God!) How do we know what that idea is? How do we know that perfection for one doesn’t include a ventilator or a wheelchair or leg braces or a hearing aid or simply silence?
Like Jesus, I believe we are made perfect in our trials. “For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.” Psalm 66:10 As silver is refined by fire, so we are refined by the physical and mental struggles we face each day. I believe that there is no one picture of perfect, no one ideal.
I used to joke years ago, when I first started going through a series of five knee operations, that God put me into a wheelchair so that s/he could get my attention. But there was truth in that jest. Before my surgeries I was so “busy” I wasn’t paying attention. When I was forced to slow down I had time to read, to listen, to tune in. As my body failed me in certain ways, my mind, my heart, became more focused. As odd as it may seem, I was more at peace, happier.
And now, as I sit in my wheelchair, I can have a very bad day and people tell me how good I look. Perhaps the processes of life, of becoming physically changed, are part of the path to perfection.
We thank you, Lord, for the gift of life, and for molding and refining us. When we don’t understand what is happening, remind us that we are made in Your image, and that we are Yours, and that we are never alone. In the name of your Son, our Savior. Amen.