A friend told me about the party. I couldn't wait. The invitation arrived in my inbox via evite. If you've never received one, an evite is an invitation sent through email with one difference: you can see the guest list. As I scoured those invited, I felt my stomach drop.
She was going.
She and I simply had different values, different ways of looking at life. But those differences had been accentuated in the last few months. Our points of disagreement had grown stronger, and I found myself withdrawing from any signs of a cordial relationship.
I've been moving through the Gospel of John for Lent, Lent but I couldn't help but sit in John 13 a bit longer. Only a couple verses are dedicated to the breaking of bread and the passing of the cup, but the picture is still the same:
Between bouts of rowdy laughter and salty observations on life, a silence falls over those gathered around a table. All eyes on the rabbi, Jesus looks down at the dimpled dough and pushes his thumbs through the bread, tearing it apart. As the last disciple brushes the crumbs from his chin, he picks up a cup of wine and shares this as well. Though the disciples have proven themselves weak and wobbly, wavering at almost every turn, Jesus doesn't exclude anyone from this moment. Even Judas.
In ancient culture, eating with someone wasn't just about meeting physical needs but a spiritual act that demonstrated and declared a spiritual relationship. The act of sipping wine, swallowing bread, the chewing and ingesting becomes a beautiful sacrament, a holy moment in time when if we strain our eyes and ears we can sense the heartbeat of God in relationships. I'm amazed Jesus still invited Judas into his inner circle, inviting him into a relationship despite knowing a betrayal was imminent.
More often than I'd like to admit, I try to identify and exclude anyone who I perceive (or misconstrue) as opposition in my life. I pull back. Skirt the outside of the room. Dodge the emails. Ignore the text messages. Even cringe when the person's name is listed on an evite.
And yet, here is Jesus, engaging with Judas in an act of friendship. Did his heart twinge as he handed him the cup? Was there a small part of him that wanted to take back the bread?
What if we were to be more intentional in relationship to others who irk us? What if I were to answer the text message as soon as I can with an extra smile emoticon? What if I ask if there's anything I could do to make their day better? What if I were to accept the evite and go? Perhaps a new friend, a new relationship, is waiting to be discovered. Maybe in this beautiful act of sipping wine and swallowing bread we can catch a glimmer of the heartbeat of God.
Anyone interested in diving into John's Gospel with me may enjoy Pursuing God's Beauty: Stories from the Gospel of John. To purchase, click here.
**Photo courtesy of here