I'm haunted by a song, its words and melody running repeatedly through my mind. We sang it recently during the Lord's Supper as people came up to receive the bread and the wine. The song is well known and we sang the refrain from memory: "bread of life from heaven, your blood and body given; we eat this bread and drink this cup until you come again."
The words and the tune guide us to the meal where we remember our Lord's death and resurrection. People file forward, one after another, humming or singing along "bread of life from heaven, your blood and body given..." their song echoing their actions as they come for the bread and wine. It's a pleasant song, a comfortable melody. Or it has been.
These days it's different. I picture her son lying on the pavement, blood everywhere, the assailants fleeing, leaving him for dead. No one aids him or calls for help. He regains consciousness, struggles to his feet and walks inside, calls his parents and they come. They rush him to the hospital, his face crushed from the heels of the boots.
"Bread of life from heaven, your blood and body given..." Their wrecked bodies mingle in my mind - her son's and our Savior's. Out in the parking lot he'd stepped in to help another man who was being attacked. That man got away and the group turned their fury on him - kicking, stomping his head. They left him broken and bleeding.
Anger grips him and he wishes he could find those men, beat them and leave them bruised and bloodied. The police have called it attempted homicide but say they can do nothing. At night his father howls with rage and cries in frustration. His mother listens, comforts her family, talks sense to them, decides how to proceed, and lies in bed with unrelenting images of her battered son.
"Bread of life from heaven, your blood and body given..." Your blood. Your body given - kicked, beaten, spat upon, nailed to a cross and left to die. His mother watched from a distance. God thundered in heaven, ripped the Temple curtain in anguish. In a violent assault - humiliating, painful, horrifying - the Son of God died. On the third day he rose - victorious over violence - with new life for all.
Can we lay our anger, our wounds, our own humiliations at the table of the Lord? Can we seek healing, justice and peace through his broken body and spilled blood? Imagine the people coming forward through the ages with hands outstretched - mothers of the disappeared in Argentina, victims of abuse, fathers of dead soldiers, people terrorized by gangs, families from Columbine, Oklahoma City, 9-11 approaching the altar for consolation, for hope, for a new world to inhabit.
"Bread of life from heaven, your blood and body given, we eat this bread and drink this cup until you come again." Come quickly, Lord Jesus, with healing for the nations. Come to us and help us live, that we may reject violence and vengeance. We vow not to strike back blow for blow; help us keep our vow. We cling instead to your love and truth. Guide us, feed us, and redeem us, Bread of life from heaven. Bring us justice. Bring us peace.