Every week after the bread is broken and the wine is poured, these words are spoken: the gifts of God for the people of God. The ordinary made extraordinary when we share the meal. In the Bible, Jesus is portrayed as physical and practical. Take and eat this food. Shake that dust from your sandals. Pull up those nets. Does someone need your shirt? Give them your coat, too.
I like that Jesus prioritizes physical needs, and over the past few years I have learned about listening to what people need rather than assuming that I know already. But here’s the rub: Jesus was a model of both casting a vision and meeting practical needs. I prefer the “boots on the ground” version of Christianity and lose interest when a church talks about “winning the city for the kingdom” but never does anything to make that happen. The big picture people probably think that my faith looks too much like works. We need both parts in order to carry Jesus’ message: the people who see where to go and the people who will make sure we get there.
This week is testing at my school. We are required to secure proctors to ensure that the tests are administered correctly. Often, schools recruit parents for this job, but many of my students have parents who work or don’t have transportation or don’t speak the language or aren’t too comfortable in school themselves. This makes finding parents to proctor for our testing even more difficult, but I believe very strongly that my students deserve the same ideal testing environment as in schools where volunteers are more plentiful. I called in all my favors trying to find people. Friends generously gave of their time or recruited others for me. My church, as they did last year, stepped in immediately to help.
There are miracles in my faith tradition, but in the end isn’t it about the ordinary things? Water and bread and wine. Regular people showing up and pitching in. I helped organize the proctors on testing mornings, and I saw familiar faces and friends of friends. I was at work, so I couldn’t say what I wanted to say: Those of you who took the time to be here, who have kids at other schools but who came here anyway, who used your connections, who jumped in when we expressed a need, you are the hands and feet of Jesus to my students. It was tiring and boring and probably a little frustrating, but you were participating in holy work. You are the grace of God to me. You are what is saving my life this week.
What is saving your life this week?