My church has a very particular way of serving communion.  Two believers stand before the congregation holding the bread and the cup.  As believers feel led, they come up and stand before the two holding the elements.  The participant takes a piece of bread and rips it from the loaf, and the one holding the bread says, "Christ's body was broken for you."  One takes the broken bread and dips it into the drink beside, and the other holder says, "Christ's blood was shed for you."  My general practice is then to return to my seat and pray before I take in the given reminder.  It has often been a powerful time, but each time I take communion, I am reminded of one particular instance of recalling our Lord's sacrifice amongst my church family.

It is very common for me to feel other.  Other, outside, alien.  Strange and different.  And the cost that this has through the currency of my pride is to grow consumed with feelings of worthlessness and the assumption that people would not desire my presence.  Which of course gives me challenges in being present, especially amongst gatherings of people.  This leads into a little over three years ago pushing myself to go on a men's retreat with my church.  I knew of a lot of the people going, but they did not necessarily know me.  Something that comes from being the quiet and listening type (and not feeling worth their time).  As I first arrived to the retreat center, I did get in conversation with a couple men: one of them in particular I had remembered a little from my days in college, and then from attending the same church for many years, along with being in a book study with him though in all that time we hardly got the chance to interact.  On this Friday night though we more officially exchanged names and talked a little, nothing profound, but he is a man that you know loves well as soon as you talk with him.  It was not a shock to me to know he bore deep love for others, but I was surprised to see how evident it was that he very quickly and easily loved me through our short talk.

Unfortunately as the week continued, I never really got in conversation with him again.  I found myself battling my pride through some of my fears and doubts and hurts, though I would not mark this as the worst of occasions.  I still found myself alone a lot, watching and listening.  This itself is not a bad thing, it is a very necessary thing, but it can itself make me feel different and strange if I think of people noting it.  The weekend went along, and I did have the conversation here or there that was important, but come Sunday morning, as we met for the final time before heading home, some of these feelings of being strange and otherly began to take hold.  And I was alone.  Sitting in a crowd.

To close our time we took communion as brothers in Christ.  And in the midst of feeling undeserving of being with these great men of faith, feeling it a lie to call them truly brothers, undeserving to break the bread of our Lord with them, I walked up to the front to take part in the feast of redemption.  And I took from the bread, breaking off a piece, and heard, "Christ's body was broken for you."  I moved over to the cup, dipping in my meager bread and heard, "Christ's blood was shed for you, Andrew." And I looked up to see the smile of the dear brother who I had gotten to talk and share with on the Friday night before.

This may seem a small thing.  But to one who feels often forgotten, the use of one's name can be a powerful thing.  I wasn't just one of the men in the line.  He was remembering me, and my story when he spoke to me.  More, he was being Christ to me in this instance.  This man knew me, and loved me, undeserved as that was, just as Jesus knew me and loved me, undeserved as that is.  I returned to my seat overcome with Jesus' mercy and grace and overwhelming love.  I smiled and I prayed and I cried. Ever since, when taking or serving communion I remember that day and I remember that man, showing the love of my savior.

And today that dear brother is Home.   Geoff Dykstra, the kindest man you could ever meet (and if you know my hesitancy to use -est words, you know I mean this with my full heart) lost a months-long battle with leukemia this past Saturday morning.  Or more accurately he won the battle, never giving into doubt, fear, anger.  But continuously praising his Lord and his God.  The accounts are abundant of the ways he ministered to all around him in the midst of his illness.  I know I will miss his smile and his heart: his quick and ready love.  But we grieve in faithful hope.  Knowing he wakes to new life fulfilled.  If you think of it, pray for his wife and five young children he has outpaced on the journey Home.

Thank you, Geoff, for being the love of Jesus to me.


Rick Floyd said...

almost don't know what to say...except [sighs...deep deep sighs]. a beautiful reflection about a beautiful brother BY a beautiful brother. so grateful you are my friend.

Leah said...

Thank you for your thoughtful reflections. Oh how I miss Geoff! Your words have blessed me this lonely night. Thank you. -Leah