There comes a time, every week, when the world rests upon my tongue.
The throne of the Almighty and the wheat fields of Texas are there. The manger of Bethlehem and the warming rays of the sun are, too. So is the flesh of the Passover lamb, raindrops from heaven, a John Deere tractor, and the God who says I Am Who I Am.
That quarter-sized circle of bread seems but a trifling nibble of a meal, but our eyes deceive us. There is a whole world squeezed into this featherweight food.
The wafer is an amphitheater in which a million actors play their part to get this bread into your mouth. From the factory workers at John Deere plants, to the truck drivers who deliver the diesel, to the farmers who sow and harvest the wheat.
From the companies that grind it into flour and bake it into wafers, to the delivery drivers who bring it from factory to church.
From the the guild who prepares the altar, to the pastors and priests who hold between thumb and forefinger this body of God.
They, and countless more, all have roles in this amphitheater of bread.
The wafer is a globe in which all of creation, visible and invisible, things of heaven and things of earth, are in service to the God who feeds the hungry.
Here is the surface of the earth broken by the plow, the soil that welcomes the seed into its dark womb. Here are the orbs of the sun whose warm rays massage life and growth into the kernel of grain. Here are the droplets of rain that moisten the soil, that slake the thirst of this seed’s tongue.
Here are the nutrients in the soil that enrich its vitality. Here are the angels who watch over the farmers and drivers and factory workers and priests. Here are the saints above who pray for those still saints below.
Hidden in this wafer is the globe of all creation working in concert to bring the bread of life into our dying bodies.
The wafer is a halo that encircles the brow of the infant cooing at Mary’s breast in the little town of Bethlehem. It is the wreath upon the head of the athlete whose feet ran the race of salvation that took him from Israel to Egypt to Galilee to cross the finish line in Jerusalem. It is the crown of thorns hammered into his skull by Romans as he was enthroned at Calvary as King of the Jews.
The wafer is halo and wreath and crown upon our Brother and Friend whose body was broken so that he might piece back together the shards of our sin-shattered lives.
The world is in this wafer. It is the icon of creation, a window into the good gift of the Maker who fashioned heaven and earth for you. It is the icon of your neighbor, for as a thousand grains are ground and kneaded together into one loaf, so you and your neighbor are baked together into the loaf that is one Christ and one church.
It is the icon of the new creation in Christ by whom you are refashioned into the image of God. It is the icon of grace, for in this bread is the body of the Savior who welcomes sinners to his table. It is the icon of the resurrection, for if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live into eternity, for this bread is the flesh of Christ for the life of the world.
As you swallow this wafer, you swallow the world. And your sin is swallowed up by the devouring love of the God who has made you his own, redeemed you, and will raise you up at the last day.