Perhaps the thing I’ve missed most of all in lockdown is church in person. I deeply miss the physicality of being with others to worship, and have struggled with the distance which makes me feel as if I am watching church rather than truly participating.
This morning I listened to Rev’d Richard Springer preach. You can too, here, from 15 minutes in. Or you can read his words below.
In a strange time, and on the third anniversary of Grenfell, the bread is enough.
The outcome of the greatest acts of wickedness in the world, is the disembodiment of it and the people in it.
The separation of bodies either intentionally, or because of lazy ignorance, add up to the same sin. We become disconnected from each other, and even from recognising the beauty of ourselves.
Jesus comes and has offered himself as a way of reconnecting. He is the one who put his body in harm’s way. His Way is not a shortcut to peace and reconciliation. The Jesus that I’m talking about is the Jesus who put his physical body on the line.
And when that body took its last breath on the cross, the heavens shook with deep anguish and with anger, but also with the rumblings of the beginnings of the new creation. It is that brave and powerful Jesus that is the Way.
I with many people I know physically shook with anger and anguish when viewing the death of George Floyd and the countless others killed at the hands of the authorities.
Jesus’ body suffered in the same way choking on the cross.
He was despised and spat upon in the same way as two Londoners, Trevor Bell a taxi driver, and Belly Mujinga, a railway station worker, who both died from the coronavirus after being terrorised in wicked acts by those who did not truly see them in their black physical selves and in their beauty.
The church participates in denying that God in Jesus suffered his body to be broken if we always skip the part that the human frailties we share play in his death. If we just rush to Easter morning, we too risk repeating the atrocities on the very bodies he died for.
When we reduce our attention on the Lord’s body to a private or inconsequential act, it’s as if he wasn’t crucified, his body broken in public for us all.
It is that body broken, and the body and blood shared in consecrated bread and wine which is true food and true drink. It is our sustenance when wickedness drives our thirst for justice and peace.
About twenty years ago now, I heard the finest sermon I had ever heard, preached by Rev Ruth Bradshaw in Birmingham. She came to the UK from the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat. A handful of years before I heard that sermon, the island was decimated by a volcanic eruption. It rendered whole streets invisible.
Despite all of this destruction, the scattering of people across the globe including her, the disconnection those people felt from being separated by death and distance from loved ones. Into this abyss, the pastor stared and concluded that in spite of it all, the bread is enough. For he is the living bread that restores our body. That is the Jesus we need, the one who always meets us in our darkest hour. In the face of racism, violent authorities, the intimidation of the weak, hunger in the richest countries, homelessness next to unnecessarily expensive and empty properties, even in the destruction of an eruption, the living bread is enough.
His body has braved entanglement in this world and survived its hardest blows. We now being the body of Christ need not fear, but tread his way, knowing that Jesus is our healing balm, our justice, our answer. Amen.