By Gail Song Bantum
Every year our church is intentional in engaging the often-difficult topic of Faith & Race. We do it not because it’s trendy or because it’s progressive to engage, but we believe that it is part of our Christian discipleship compelled by the Gospel. In so doing, we are continually confronted by what it means to be faithful followers of Christ. As we engage in these sermons, classes and small group discussions each year, we’ve been culminating our time with a diverse spread of “breads” for Holy Communion, i.e. the body of Christ represented in challah, mochi, rice cake, corn bread, French bread, Hawaiian sweet bread, naan, tortillas, etc. We have also celebrated the Sacrament of Communion in this way on Resurrection Sunday.
When confronted by such an extravagant and diverse table, not only does it remind us of the breadth and beauty of our diversity here at Quest Church, but more profoundly, the table has become a reminder of our extravagant belonging centered and sustained in the person of Jesus Christ. The table also serves as a tangible and visible reminder of our continual call to pursue and embody a life of confession and reconciliation – that all, though messy at times, ALL are welcome into the family of God, the body of Christ, the communion of saints. The table then becomes our confession that it is not the select or the majority or the leaders or the natives or the citizens or the members alone who are welcome. At the table is when we’re humbly aware that we all have been welcomed in as strangers/foreigners by the blood of Christ. For those who were once far off have been brought near (Eph. 2:13).
However, given the broken realities of how we navigate our identities through positions of power (or lack thereof) and our articulations of difference, the thought of a diversely reconciled community seems nearly impossible – ethnic, gender, ability, socio-economic, and generational – that’s a lot of reconciling!
BUT, are we not a people who believe and profess in the resurrected Christ? Are we not a people who believe that the waters of baptism and Christ’s body and blood should somehow lay claim on us because we are confronted every time by the Holy Spirit’s power and presence therein? Isn’t this power able to radically transform our notions of possibility? In Christ and through the power of the Spirit, are we not a people who believe that there’s possibility in our own transformation? Possibility in our relationships? And, possibility in the transformation of our communities? I hope we believe because we know Christ has already and will continue to reconcile situations, people, brokenness, and seeming impossibilities unto Christ’s self. We have to believe because even as we witnessed the tragic events around Ferguson unfold over the past several months, there’s an understandable temptation for that hope to appear dim.
In the face of the tragic, I was reminded of the miraculous witnessed throughout the narrative of Scripture – in the stirring of the waters at creation – to the waters of Mary’s womb – to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and to Jesus’ proclaiming to the Samaritan woman of his very being as the living water!
The impossible made possible.
Friends, it can’t only be a “not yet” faith that we resign ourselves to but it has to entail the courage to faithfully live into the “already” in the confidence of what is yet to come. As the body of Christ, as the communion of saints, the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion should confront us with the impossible. In being confronted, the font and table reminds and empowers all of us who receive of it that we serve a God who confounds every “no” with the promise of LIFE and life everlasting.
What is the “no” that Christ is confronting in your life or in the life of your respective communities?