Today I was asked to participate in giving communion at my church, and, while it is something that I have been asked to do on more than one occasion, there was something different this time. The original reason I was drawn to this particular community of believers was the incredible amount of diversity in the congregation. A large variety of races and ethnic groups are represented in this one portion of the Body of Christ, and it is something that I find to feel very much representative of the way God sees His Bride. Anyway, there was something different about today. After participating in a prayer breakfast yesterday about soul care and being intentional about seeing people from the “inside out”, I found myself challenged to really look at the people I was serving in that moment. A dear friend, and coincidentally the woman who led the breakfast, shared about her encounter when she participated in serving communion at my church. And I began to understand what she was talking about when she described her experience.
So, here I was, with the bread (the Body of Christ), and, as each person approached to receive, I spoke the words, “The Body of Christ broken for you.” It’s amazing how much you begin to really hear what you are saying when you have to repeat it a few dozen times. But it was just that I was professing and proclaiming, in this season of Advent, that God loved each and every person that I met with the bread that He gave His only Son for the chance to be back in relationship with them. No, that wasn’t it. It was that I was proclaiming and professing that very thing to the Nations. You see, every time I looked up from that piece of bread that represented the incredible sacrifice that my Creator made to bridge the gap created by sin, I was speaking that life to a new and different face, not monochromatic, but completely different in every way. I proclaiming that word of life to every race, every continent, every walk of life. It was one of the most profound moments I have encountered in a long time. And it reminded me of the first time I really experienced the beautiful tapestry that is meant to be the Body of Christ.
In 2004, I was able to attend a multicultural student leadership conference in Seattle, Washington. It was hosted by Seattle Pacific University, a Christian college on the west coast. On the first night of the conference, as we all gathered together for worship, one of the conference leaders led us in an exercise. He invited us to say the phrase “Praise the Lord” in our native language. Being a multicultural conference, there were a lot of ethnic groups present in that chapel. And as they were led, people spoke aloud for all of us to hear “Praise the Lord” in their own language. That was one of the single most profound moments for me in my walk with God, because, in that moment, Pentecost came to life for me. Right then and there, I was transported back to that scene described in Acts 2, where the disciples spoke the Gospel to the crowd that had gathered, in languages they had never spoken, as the Spirit filled them. That’s when I understood deeply that embracing our differences is what makes the Body of Christ such a beautiful experience. God had a reason for making us as unique as the snowflakes that fall in the winter, no two are exactly alike, not even identical twins. We are all different, made in the perfect image of God, and it is our responsibility to honor that.
The message of Christmas is that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus in human form and likeness, to share in the human experience, and ultimately to allow His body to be broken for you and me, so that we can once again experience a deeply fulfilling relationship with our Creator. And He didn’t just do it for one people group or race; He died for ALL THE NATIONS. So, as I served communion this morning, I was not only affirming that Christmas is sacred and blessed because it is the ultimate sacrifice of love, but I was also reaffirming that Christ came for all, died for all, and now intercedes for all. When Love came down, it wasn’t exclusive or conditional. It was, and is, and will always be, all-encompassing, unconditional, and limitless Love, for all who accept it for the gift that it is and can be. This is the miracle of Christmas.