Monday, October 8, 2012

Lord of the Bullies...and the Bullied.

I had the great privilege this weekend to watch a newly ordained minister preside over the sacrament of the Lord's Supper for the first time. It was, as my generation would say, totally awesome.

I was at the Calvin Center for their annual Middle School conference, the topic of which was bullying. Our keynoter, a long time friend of mine, was also charged with preaching and presiding at table on Sunday.

Oh, and Sunday was world communion Sunday. So there's that.

So we'd been talking all weekend about bullying, covering the obvious topics such as "God still loves you even if bullies don't," and there was a little bit of "if you see bullying, you should intervene." But the hardest thing about which we talked was the bit about loving those who bully you.

And we came to the table together on Sunday.

I was struck by how theologically correct the outdoor worship space at Camp Calvin is, there's a table, a place from which scripture can be read and proclaimed, and a large lake that serves as the visual reminder of the waters of baptism.

The image that has stayed with me though, is one of Christ walking on water, coming to us in the midst of our stormy lives, to sit at table with those who are bullied, and those who bully. That's terribly uncomfortable for those who are victims of bullying, but the bullies themselves will feel a thrill of fear when they too are invited to join.

Because at the table, all of our posturing and posing falls away, and we are left as the forgiven sinners that we are. If that is not a humbling experience, I don't know what is.

It was the pastor's first time presiding, and he served both bullies and their targets with the same words, the same bread, and the same cup.

Because when one member suffers, the whole body suffers. And we come to the table to live that out.


  1. The images in this blog reminded me of an outdoor worship space I went to years ago on a spiritual life retreat. I love the way your writing made me feel as though I was experiencing the story along with you. I'm a big fan of this kind of writing. well done :)

    1. Thanks Jordan! It's not as challenging as my previous post, so I don't expect as much discussion, but I think it's important to remember that we're all in this together.

      You're right, the Calvin Center is a beautiful place where it's easy to experience the presence of God. For my money, it's the kind of place the Celts would call a "thin space."

  2. Isn't Camp Calvin great? The setting is a wonderful one for reflection, and this is an important one. It's good to know we are all invited to the table, to receive the grace we need but don't necessarily deserve.

    1. The amazing thing about grace is that it's a free gift that we never deserve, much like the invitation to sit at table with our Lord.

      The other thing is that our churches are filled with both kinds of people. People who still bear the wounds of being on both sides of that equation. We still have many power imbalances in our society, and as long as they remain, we will still need God's grace to bring us together again.