Last week as our church gathered, I wondered what to say about Paris, Beirut, Kenya and Baghdad- all these places in the past week that were wounded by violence and terror. The questions swirled in my head as I drove those ten city blocks to church: “What do I say that sends us in the right direction of hope?” “How do I call us to action?” “What are the words that we hope to hear this morning?” And, truth be told, I didn’t feel like I had an answer for these questions at the time. As worship began, I was only able to speak the names of these places and to ask us to pray, but also couldn’t help feeling that even those words felt inadequate as a true response for the violence that occurred in our world that week.
This past week in France has been one filled with many responses to the terrorist attacks in Paris. One of the most significant ones though came last night, as the hashtag #TousAuBistrot (To the bar) spread to great effect across the city. Led by a French restaurant review website, the movement called for Parisians to spend their Tuesday evening back at the cafes, bistros and bars. It was a protest designed to be an act of refusal against being afraid in these public spaces that for many Parisians are like second homes and true hubs of community and civic life.
By many measures, the movement was a success. Tuesday evening many of the restaurants and cafes were full of the French people eating, drinking and at a particularly poignant moment…observing a minute of silence at 9pm. “We will not be betrayed by our fears!” the website declared, and from the pictures shared on Twitter and Instagram it was clear that many refused to be betrayed by that most basic weapon of the terrorists-fear itself. A refusal that was lived out in that most simple and human of acts…to gather at a table to eat, drink and see the faces of those who have sat with you. A protest of bread and wine!
Yes, last week as our church gathered, I did not know what to say. Words felt inadequate or even hollow…at least until that moment came for communion. I do not wish to romanticize communion, but still I believe/hope that it is a revolutionary act. I believe this because in the act of communion we too gather at the table and we remember how God was also wounded in his moment of death. We remember that Christ knows the woundedness of our world, but most of all we remember the truth that all of this violence and terror will be redeemed and fall silent in the face of love. In these weeks when words, logic, and political responses all feel inadequate, I always remain thankful that we have a response. A sacred response which is to gather is to see each other and the world in the most simple and human of acts…to gather to eat, drink as an act of hope in the kingdom of God. I’ll see you on Sunday in our own protest of bread and wine. #tothetable
If you’d like to read the Scripture for Sunday, you can find it here: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=193212629.