What does the Lord’s table have to do with Haiti? Everything!
I listened Wednesday morning after the earthquake as a missionary from the UK told stories of the Haitians singing songs through the night. And not just any songs. But songs of praise to God! But why praise God on a night like that!?! That doesn’t make sense! You have every right to be angry, every right to inquire about God’s goodness, or presence, or even existence. If ever you have the right to question God, to doubt him, it is at a time like that, right?
In our comfortable world, here in America, we can quickly forget that the Lord’s supper NEVER makes sense! That celebration and worship, never make sense in a world such as ours. Because we live in what Jesus and Paul refer to as the “Old Aeon” or the “Old Age” or the “Old order of things.” And the primary distinctive this dark Aeon, this old age, is suffering. Where the new hasn’t broken in, there is suffering. Where the new has not yet come there is injustice. Wherever the old aeon still reigns there will be war, no peace, no love, no forgiveness, no healing, no love, no joy, and no redemption!
So when we gather around this table it is with a dual awareness. First, we are aware that the new has not yet fully come – and that there is still suffering, still hurting, still pain, still affliction, still despair. And we know that it is all around us: sufferings, standing as sign posts that this dark age has not yet been fully overcome. But then we are also aware of another reality – that Jesus has come! The kingdom of God has broken into the world! God has entered our own dark age, and ushered in the new! And he has overcome the powers of darkness – he has overcome the forces of evil and corruption – he has overcome the fall of all creation – and in him sorrows and despair and suffering are swallowed up and made to be no more.
And so we eat and drink, together, around a table of fellowship and common love, secured by the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. And as we do, we bear witness to a better age, the coming Aeon. More than just bearing witness, we embody the coming age when all striving will cease and all suffering end, and all will gather at the Table with Christ at the head! But we eat a drink knowing where we are – in the belly of the beast, the midst of the old age. And as we we take the bread and drink the wine, we lift our voices with those suffering Haitians as they sing praises to God’s goodness. And it doesn’t make sense! But it will! It will!
Prayer: Our Father, exalted over all things, but present with us too, bless us as we come together around your table. Bless this bread chosen for the sake of a hurting world, broken for the sake of all sin and captivity and despair, and given to us as a meal of healing and hope. And may our participation in this celebratory meal stand as a faithful witness to the world that you are good. Despite the suffering, despite the injustice, despite the ceaseless fighting and wars, despite the tragedy and poverty, despite the hurting of your beloved children… there was a man named Mercy who came and laid down his life to share in our sufferings… and then he defeated death and rose from the dark grave. Give us Father, glimpses into that Resurrection. Give us Father access to the power that overcomes the suffering and death and despair. To the one that has overcome this dark age, we give our praise to you Lord, Jesus, as we take this, your body and blood! In your name, Amen!