Broken for you
Good Friday meditation
Good Friday meditation
The “Blessed mess” –as it was later called by eyewitnesses – happened unexpectedly during a solemn academic worship service. The Faculty and the student body filled the chapel of the Seminary. The choir performed magnificently. Preaching in his festive robe, the Dean, delivered a powerful message. The occasion was heightened by the fact that it was Communion time a significant event, when everybody in the school was expected to attend.
Everything went as scheduled and without blunder though a number of professors and students participated in the Liturgy. When the part of the Lord’s Supper was reached, the youngest and recently appointed new Faculty member walked to the Communion Table ready to serve the Holy Supper.
He was a thin, diminutive person of quiet voice and gentle manner. Since this was his first ministerial function in the Seminary he was noticeably tensed, working hard to do everything in the traditional, “proper” way. He handled his part well and nobody expected trouble till he lifted up the Communion bread. While quoting the words of Christ, “This is my body broken for you”, he was supposed to break the symbol of that body into two halves.
Apparently the loaf had an unusually tough, thick crust because the young professor’s long, narrow fingers could not break through it. He tried once, twice, many times, turning the bread desperately around looking for a better grip and a weaker spot – but in vain. It resisted all assaults.
The people watched his pitiable efforts with increasing shock and dismay. Not knowing what to do, nobody moved to help him in his struggle. And struggle it was. Sweating and panting, gradually disregarding any semblance of solemnity, the professor was stubbornly determined to break that bread. With full force he violently pushed it and pulled it, forced his thumbnails into it, tried to peel off bits and pieces. As the result of this horrendous fight eventually the impeccable Holy Table was covered with crumbs and small torn parts of the non-cooperating bread. It was a real mess.
Yet, the declaration of the Lord, “This is my body broken for you”, received a deeper and lasting meaning on that day.
After the service, participants thanked the professor for such an unusual visual presentation of Christ’s suffering. One said: “This was my most memorable Communion Service because it helped me realize that salvation is the result of such a struggle against brokenness”.
One could not help but realize that it was closer to the brutality of Good Friday than our routine, painless serving of the bread or wafer. The young, healthy, strong body of Christ had to be whipped, tortured by thorns, collapsed under the weight of the cross, nailed and pierced before it finally broke and death arrived.
Good Friday is a violent day; Holy Communion is not a benign Sacrament.
Published already in “Hirlevel” (Reformed Women’s News in Hungary, July 2004)
Laslo Medyesy is a missionary with the Reformed Church in Hungary, based in Budapest, Hungary. He serves as professor of theology in the Department of Theology of the Gaspar Karoli Reformed University in Budapest.