Every once in a while, I get to do something that is truly remarkable. I am surprised people let me do it. I am definitely not qualified. But every few weeks I show up, sign in, and walk up to the front of the church when it is time to do so, and I do this thing that always reminds me just how broken I am.
I get to serve communion at church sometimes and every time I do it, I feel very emotional for a few days afterwards. Growing up, communion was only served by priests or deacons – older men who were holier than the rest of us and had the authority to administer blessings and sacraments and prayers for the people. The way I learned it, communion was best served by people who didn’t have broken parts.
But that’s not me. I am full of broken parts and pieces. I have no right to be telling other people that they are forgiven of their sins, but I do it because someone else did it for me. Every few weeks, I get to stand in a large room with dimmed lights and beautiful music playing while I hold two clear wine glasses and a basket of broken bread pieces. One glass is marked with the words “wine” and the other is full of grape juice. Dozens of people – people I don’t know – stand in a line and come forward one by one. They take a piece a bread, and I look them in the eye and say, “The body of Christ, broken for you.” Then they dip their piece of bread in either the wine or the juice and I get to say, “The blood of Christ, shed for you.”
Most people don’t look at me when they take communion, but that is ok. Communion is an intimate moment and sometimes people don’t want to be seen. I get that. I have sat in the back of church before and prayed no one would talk to me. I just want people to know that they are seen, and loved, just as they are and not as they think they should be. I am here today because people looked at me when I did not want to be seen.
While ruminating on this thought, I recently watched the movie Same Kind of Different As Me. I read the book years ago and I delayed seeing the movie because sometimes people butcher good books with movies. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book yet, I highly recommended either or both. The movie is on Netflix, so it is easily accessible. In the movie, Djimon Hounsou brilliantly portrays a homeless man named Denver Moore who allows himself to be befriended by a wealthy white family. When Denver visits an art museum for the first time, he encounters the Picasso painting I posted above. The painting is called “The Weeping Woman” and Denver looks at it thoughtfully and says, “Looks to me that he done broke that lady apart then tried to put her back together again but got her all messed up. Course that makes you look at her different than you would if she looked real. You can see what she’s really like from the inside, not just the outside.”
We may all look different on the outside – some smooth, some rough – but we all have broken pieces. The first time I ever served communion was in jail. I only did it because it needed to be done. I was the one leading the services at the time, and there was not a pastor present, so I just went for it. I didn’t know that it would become a regular thing, or that I would start serving once a month or so at our own church campus. The only reason I agreed to serve communion in the first place was because I knew that I was a very broken person who wanted to tell other broken people that someone had died for them.
Just as Denver pointed out when he saw the Picasso painting, we all see people differently when we see their broken pieces. The broken parts let us see each other on the inside. It’s in the broken bits that we really get to meet each other, to tell and hear our stories, and to see just what was so important that a man had to be murdered over us, for our sakes.
I love communion, but when I serve it I am reminded of just how broken I am. I am reminded that I am not fit to wash the feet of the people who line up to be served, and that Jesus loves me in my unfittedness.
I guess that’s what being broken is all about. Jesus broke for us, so that we can be broken for each other, so that we can love each other in our brokenness.