Reflection on Judgment
Written by Joseph Wood
ESC Maryland Alum
Some of my fondest memories from my year in the Episcopal Service Corps are from our “family dinners.” Living in intentional community can be hard, can involve a lot of rough edges and a distinct lack of personal space. Yet those nights when we were able to come together around the dining room table to share in food and fellowship helped to make it all worth it. The fact that we could laugh, commiserate, talk, and, yes, even argue over that table helped to bond us together in the common life we had committed to. It linked the service work we were doing with the small, seemingly inconsequential habits of everyday life. The connections we were making were not just about how much we helped other people; they were about sharing and shaping who we are as people—even in as simple an act as breaking bread together.
In the collect for this Fourth Sunday of Lent we pray that God “evermore give us” “the true bread which gives life to the world.” As we live into this season, I think it is important to recognize that the “true bread” that is Christ comes into our lives in many forms. Salvation comes into our lives in many forms. We should not and even cannot simply look to some kind of judgment day, whenever it will come. Instead, we can notice the connection between the Eucharist we share and the Jewish understanding that bread and wine are all that is needed for something to be a feast. We can recognize what the Israelites in today’s reading from Numbers could not, that God comes into our lives in ways large and small. That even food that some might consider “miserable” can be an entry point for the divine into our lives. Therefore, instead of abhorring the smallness of parts of our lives, we can open ourselves up to the transformative movement of Christ through all things. We can set aside our own judgments, our own rough edges, and enjoy a foretaste of the world to come in laughter around a crowded table.