This will be a bit different of a blog entry for me. Tomorrow is the inauguration of Joseph Biden as President of the United States. Given the events of the past couple of weeks there is a lot of anxiety of how tomorrow is going to go, and if there will be eruptions of violence.
Although I do not count myself as a believer anymore, I still hold a special place in my heart for the sacrament of the eucharist, and the notion of communion. One of the theological books that I’ve still kept after all these years is John Zizioulas’ Being as Communion, in which he argues that the essence of being a person is how we exist in communion with each other (and the divine), and how that guides our worldview. I won’t dive into the theology behind all of this, but the secular notion I’ve carried forward is that none of us exist in isolation from the other. As we interact with the world around us we have real consequence in the lives of others. That interaction shapes us and we create our personhood through a lifetime of communion with others.
The Christian sacrament of communion can be a beautiful representation of this and I’ve always been moved by it when I participate. I realize that many churches practice a closed or ‘close’ communion, but looking beyond that to the act that is happening, you see a body of people coming together to symbolically break bread together. They are sharing in that simple act, together. I had a Methodist pastor once who coined the phrase that what people need to hear in their life is, “I love you, I want you, and supper’s ready.” We all intellectually know that someone may love us or want us. Yet when they take the next step and include us in their life, breaking bread with us, we truly feel communion become reality.
We are hurting as a nation, and my atheist prayer for tomorrow is for peace to overcome hatred. Despite all signs pointing to the contrary, I wish that tomorrow would be the start of a new communion in our nation.
Rich Mullins is my all-time favorite songwriter from my Christian days, and I still love listening to him. His album A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band is a timeless classic in my heart. I’ll end this blog with the lyrics of his song, Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph’s Square)
Though we’re strangers, still I love you
I love you more than your mask
And you know you have to trust this to be true
And I know that’s much to ask
But lay down your fears, come and join this feast
He has called us here, you and me
And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
On these souls
This drought has dried
In his blood and in his body
In this bread and in this wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you– Rich Mullins & Beaker