by Elaine Heath
What we see in Jesus’s life is a God who thoroughly lives into our neighborhoods. He understands our lives because he has been there. No aspect of human suffering, need, or temptation is foreign to him. He knows firsthand the joys of human life. Jesus reveals to us a God who knows us intimately and is in solidarity with us in our human condition. This is why we can never celebrate his love too much.
To celebrate the truth that God is making all things new, is to follow and participate in the life of Christ, right in our own neighborhoods. This spiritual practice is simple, but not easy. It requires that we live in a "neighbor-ward" direction, our eyes, ears, and heart attuned to the invitations of God who is already there ahead of us.
We are diverse people gathered by God the Baker into something like a multigrain loaf.
This posture of living toward and for the sake of our neighbors, is really a matter of becoming the bread and wine that God gives to our neighbors, through our very lives. Drawing from the metaphor of the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, in his beautiful meditation Life of the Beloved, Henri J. M. Nouwen describes four movements in the Christian life. We are taken, blessed, broken, and given. That is, we are gathered together into a community, or as I often say when presiding at Communion, we are diverse people gathered by God the Baker into something like a multigrain loaf. God kneads us into one loaf—blessing us, forgiving us of our sins, and setting us on a path of healing and reconciliation. At the benediction, God “breaks” the loaf of our community into many pieces by sending us forth to embody Jesus in the neighborhoods from which we come. In this way we become the Communion bread that God gives to the world. The word becomes flesh and blood in us and moves into many neighborhoods.
Adapted from Elaine A. Heath The Healing Practice of Celebration, (Nashville: Abingdon, 2020), pp. 47, 48, 67.