It was a sacred moment, our first Cornerstone Chapel communion, a week before Palm Sunday. With such a small group, we have the luxury of sharing with each other publicly before sharing the broken bread and crushed grapes together. I listened as each person bared their soul to the rest of us, all of us excited to observe this first communion for a young, as yet undefined church.
When it came my turn to talk, I told about my propensity to gloom and anxiety and sensitivity.
“I still have flashbacks to my old job, where I just start crying. I wrestle with what I did wrong,” I said. “But I’m so grateful for Christ’s death because I could never be good enough to please God.”
Still, it seems the memories have become more frequent. A dream where I’m suddenly talking to a cardiac anesthesiologist. A blast of emotion triggered by a line in a song. A character in a book that reminds me of a character in my past life.
Shoe marks printed in human blood and human aspirations walk across the floor of my memory, some literal and some figurative.
A few mornings later I heard a song.
With every heartbeat in my chestRyan Stevenson
Lord, I surrender all that I have
The days yet to come, the days in the past
I’m giving You all I am
The words hit me between the eyes.
Okay, I know that we need to surrender the future to God, the days yet to come. We need to surrender ourselves.
But, surrender the days in the past?
I thought about that for awhile. I thought about it as I walked to the Baker’s Nook, and I detoured to take a few minutes on the wooden bridge over the river to think some more.
Could it be that the past, no different from the future or the present, is something to surrender? Could it be that “all that I have and all that I am” includes the past?
Perhaps, as I look into the face of Christ on the cross the past and future both fade. Perhaps, that is what eternity is–an endless present of perfect oneness with God, made possible by Christ.
Do you know what’s interesting? What is interesting is where I learned the healing power of taking my pain to the face of Christ on the cross. I learned this at my old job in heart surgery, amid the obscenities and drama and manipulation and my realization of my own improper attitudes and responses. That lesson, the power of looking to Christ’s suffering, is a blessing that I will never regret. Perhaps the rest, the parts I can’t understand, need to be surrendered, so I can live in the present without inhibition.
“I’m so glad,” Bishop John said during the Communion service, “that when I stand before God, Jesus will be there too.”
Perhaps we only become whole and healthy as we see our unworthiness and worship Jesus for his salvation and let the past and future fade. Perhaps there is no more powerful way to worship than to share communion with our brothers and sisters, remembering the work of Christ by tasting broken bread and crushed grapes.
“That was a special time,” Marnell said of the Communion evening.
Christ’s sacrifice, which we commemorate again this week on the calendar, is not defined by calendar or clock. This healing gift is forever present to those who look up, broken, from the foot of the cross and see, above the broken body, the depths of love and pain in the eyes of the Prince of Peace, who is also the Prince of the Past.