A Communion Meditation: His Softened Gaze

In his book, Blue Like Jazz, author Donald Miller tells a story about a time that he and a friend attended a folk concert together. As he narrates that experience, he tells of a particular moment where, between songs, the folk singer paused to tell a story. The story concerned another of the musician’s friends, a fellow who happened to be one in a group of Navy Seals that had been assigned to a hostage recovery mission. Flown in on a helicopter, the group landed and began to search the grounds of a remote compound. But once they found the hostages, something unusual and unexpected happened.

When the Seals entered the room, the group of hostages was bundled up in the corner of a dark, stench-ridden room. But when the rescuers called out to the hostages there was nothing but gasps; the prisoners did not respond as we might suppose they would have, no, they remained on the floor without movement. This prompted the Seal’s to stand there too. Miller says, that like the hostages, they did not know what to do either. However, after a few moments, one of them got an idea. “He put down his weapon, took off his helmet and curled up tightly next to the hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. None of the prison guards would have done this…‘Will you follow us?’ he said. The hero stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go” (34).

When we gather around our Lord’s Table, we are testifying before God, one another and, in some sense the world, that, God did something similar for us. Not only did He extend His gaze to us and not only did He extend His reach our way, no, He came our way. And His coming our way involved a type of rescue from our own destruction and our own demise. And the God-man curled up tightly with us, in all of our humanity, and asked us, “Will you follow Me?” We hear of other so-called gods and goddesses in this world's multitude of religions but even if those deities did exist, none of them, not a single one, would have done this.

This morning as we stand to our feet before the Lord’s Table, we reflect on and remember what God, the King of kings, Lord of lords, and Hero of heroes has done for humanity. That is why we meet here at this place, that is why we gather before this Table and that is why we heed to those words, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” He has turned His gaze softly upon us, at this time, may we turn our gaze fully towards Him. Let’s pray together.

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