Sunday, December 28, 2008

Messy Messiah, Fragments of Faith?

Had I been reading the newspaper on Christmas Day, I surely would have zeroed in on the New York Times article titled, "Bread of Life, Baked in Rhode Island."

But I wasn't reading the paper.

I was reading Isaiah (52:7-10) and Hebrews (1:1-6) from the ambo, trying not to fall asleep on my feet at key liturgical moments and then, staggering home to collapse on the couch.

Only direct experience ever seems to permeate the wall of thought around my consciousness. And so, I believe this year's felt sense of being an exhausted heap of protoplasm is a yet another message from God about my true vocation.

Days later I was awake enough to read about the company supplying 80% of the communion bread used by Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and Southern Baptist churches in this country. It is, notes the NYT, "a seemingly recession-proof business." That's certainly one way to look at it. Clergy seem to view the Cavanagh Company's product line in different terms.

I've been thinking about this glowing endorsement from an Episcopal priest: "It doesn't crumb, and I don't like fragments of our Lord scattering all over the floor." God only knows what this priest's bishop said after that quote was published.

After pondering the image of Jesus as Mess rather than Messiah, I've come around to thinking that we could probably benefit from having fragments of our Lord scattered more liberally -- more messily -- throughout our lives. Yes, I realize that "all over the floor" seems sacrilegious. And yet in my experience, people tend to look down rather than up; why not meet them there?