When I was in my midtwenties, I lost my way, as only a young man can who finds himself in a strange city with few friends and loneliness to spare. One morning after a sad and unfulfilling night in the arms of a one-night stand, I was driving to work with tears coursing down my face. I could barely see the road, and I was desperate and pleading with God to help me. The very moment I called for help, a beautiful bluebird flew into the windshield of my car and dropped dead onto the road. Bluebirds have always been my favorites, my little friends in the bird kingdom. I’m too color-blind to see half the cardinals in the woods, but the vibrant colors of the bluebird have always caught my eye. When I cried out to God that morning and my beautiful little friend flew into my car a split second later, I wailed, “God, why? Why did that little innocent bird have to die?” In that moment I heard this thought, Every time you sin, something beautiful dies and sings no more.
If this is true, the stunning thing to me is how much death and dying happen while a man learns to live, yet how the spark of resurrection can make him alive again, no matter the circumstances. My father often told me there were dead men walking around, guys who had lost their hearts, who gave them one little bit at a time to the things that kill men. It is easy to see this in what we consider to be the big moral failures, but it is just as true with the “little junk” we embrace as normal parts of our character or personality. Whether you give your life away “one little brick at a time” or in a moment of great moral failure, the song of your heart is dying, slowly dying. Your heart will kill you, unless there is some remedy.
At Mom’s funeral, her pastor asked the nearly five hundred guests how many of them had ever been to my parents’ home for a meal. Our family turned around to view a sea of hands, and while there must have been a few, we could not see anyone whose hand was not raised. Their table, for fifty-five years, welcomed all who came.
Likewise, the table of our Lord represents restoration and a warm welcome home into his presence with fellow sinners when the songbird of your life has fallen dead on the side of the road. Enemies, including those we have created, come to steal, to kill, and to destroy us, but Jesus offers his broken body and his blood as divine restoration from our foes in what we now celebrate and receive in the Holy Eucharist as daily bread for daily sorrows. The fact that wine and bread, the symbols of joy and of life in which are locked away the sacred mysteries of God, should be endowed with such significance is a reality only God could conceive. We receive the holy remedy, the sacred mystery. We offer it to one another. We receive Jesus again and again and are given the right to become the children of God. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said, for in his presence, there is fullness of joy. Perhaps the table at your house could become, if it is not already, the table of the presence of the Lord, not only for yourself and your family, but also for others.
Yoder, Wes (2010-09-21). Bond of Brothers: Connecting with Other Men Beyond Work, Weather and Sports (pp. 131-134). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.