When things get really bad, I sit out on the porch and think about life and reality. What is real? What does it mean to be real? Sometimes it feels like it is all a dream. Yet, existence is as real as we know anything is real. I wake up, I work, I eat. I hug my daughters. I drive them to school and pick them up. I sleep. I get up, and I do it all again.
But when life falls apart, it feels like the fabric of what is real is unraveling. You don't want what is real to be real. You want it to be a dream. You become exhausted. Let me mow 1,000 lawns and build 100 sheds, and I will be physically tired but happy and content. Break my heart, burden, and oppress me in my spirit, and the burden will drain my soul of its strength to the point of splintering, walking around like a zombie who merely goes through the motions of life.
Is God real? Why all this trouble? Why all this exhaustion? Why does it seem like there is no relief for my soul? Why do my prayers seem to flutter off into the ether, off to nowhere?
Yesterday was communion. I took the body and blood of Jesus. It was only bread from a store. It was only juice from a bottle, packaged in some factory somewhere. But in that moment, it became much more. It was God showing up through the material, the tangible. It was treasure in an earthen vessel, just as Jesus Himself is as He came down and walked this earth.
Holding those things in my hand was Jesus saying to me... "I am real. I am as real as the bread and juice you hold in your hand, as real as the taste in your mouth, as real as the chair you sit in while you eat. I am with you. I know what it is to be broken, and I am with you."
There is a continuity in the Lord's Supper, in what we call "communion." Jesus told his disciples to do it in remembrance of Him. It has been celebrated ever since, in a line of continuity from that singular point in time, that one night when Jesus ate with His disciples and then was betrayed. That continuity speaks to me, as well, reminding me that this is not all a dream, not something made up. Real people were involved in all of this, in all of the events of Jesus, and real people with real stories, real lives, real pain, real brokenness, real blessings and joy, and real hope have been ever since. And it will continue on long after I'm gone.
Tangible, real, historical, true, actual, flesh and blood, imminent, with me, beside me, in me...