Yesterday evening I sat with the young women in our Café group as we discussed Sara Miles’ book, “Take this Bread.” I’d arrived late to the meeting and found the group circling the dining room table waiting for everyone to arrive before beginning to eat. We each helped ourselves to the warm, hearty chili Libby had made, a side of cool spinach salad with tart cranberries, and a glass of wine. Situating ourselves around the circumference of the living room, we balanced our plates and bowls on our laps as we discussed the book, and our lives. We fed one another, literally and metaphorically, and we prayed for the strength and conviction we’d need to let the ideas that filled that room grow large enough to fill our whole lives.
That is the shape of worship – we gather, we share words and bread and wine, and we pray that these small signs will somehow be strong enough to not only sustain us through the week ahead, but that they will do even more; that they will strengthen us to transform the world. How does that work? How do signs of greeting, shared wisdom and gracious provision, do enough to equip us for the work for which we have been commissioned in baptism?
Paul writes, “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are.” These fragile, holy things – words of welcome, sacred literature and shared reflection, a common cup and a single loaf, and blessings said to one another holding hands – are what God has given us to change the world. If they seem too little to do so much, than perhaps we might ask if everyone has arrived yet for the meal, and we might look for the poor in spirit, the mourners and the meek, those who hunger and thirst for all manner of things. We might inquire after the merciful, the pure-hearted, the peacemakers and the persecuted.
Maybe as we gather in the presence of the world’s weakness, we will find that we already have more than enough of whatever we thought we needed. Perhaps then the ideas that fill our sanctuaries will grow large enough to fill our whole lives.