Last Sunday during our Coffee & Conversation time at St. Thomas' I was in the hot seat. We are doing a 4 week series for Lent asking leaders in our church to talk about their faith journeys. Even though I was on the committee planning, being a Newbie I was asked to undergo the grilling.
I expected some pretty traditional Sunday School questions, and being a recovering Baptist, I was more than comfortable sharing my "testimony" and especially from school as a chaplain, I am always ready to answer theological questions no matter how off-the-wall or a non-sequitur. Some of the questions were expected, "How did you get the nickname Rock?" I felt like Bill Clinton with the "Boxers or Briefs?" question, but was a little surprised being asked in Sunday School.
The most surprising question, though, was "What is your favorite part of the worship service?" That one actually caught me as a surprise. What is my favorite part of the mass? I had never thought about that before. When I get in situations like this, I decided not to think, but just open my mouth. On the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, this is when my wife says I am showing my P-ness (Perceptive as opposed to Judgmental, the 4th category. Please forgive the bad pun.) My response, "The Fraction."
The Fraction is when the priest holds up the bread, and breaks it. It is representative of the broken Christ, Jesus who chose to be broken to take away the sins of the world. My answer has stayed with me since then, whereas most of the rest of the Q&A time is a blur. I have been asking myself why I answered that way. The more I have thought about it, the more I think that truly is for me the high point of the service. The liturgy drives to that climactic moment, which visually is very dramatic and central, and leads to the sharing of the one bread and the one cup. Every time I see it, every time I have done it, I pause with bated breath and await the moment, the very Now, the very Once, the very Always of the Sacrifice. I think of the Broken God and what that means. Broken, not as in defective, but in being humbled. The self-lowering and debasing that Jesus did to allow us to witness, connect, and understand the price he was willing to pay and did pay has changed me, and it has changed the world. In the Fraction, he is reduced. And that is why I lift it up. I need to remember this, and as I preach and teach and lift his humbled self up, my prayer is that Christ is exalted.
My prayer is that this feeling, this importance of this Once-and-Always moment may ever be so in all my days as a priest. Please help me, my dear, beloved, Broken God.
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