“Created in God’s Image” (Part 1) – “The Broken Body” by the Revd Canon Rachel Mann
Often, St Paul has been presented as bad news for LGBTI+ Christians. His letters contain a number of classic clobber texts. It might surprise some, then, that I take my ‘sustaining’ Bible verse from his writings. Personally, I think Paul has been given a bad press, but that’s a discussion for another time.
I find this section of his first letter to the church at Corinth powerful for many reasons. Not least, it contains the earliest biblical reference to the Eucharist. Equally, it is contained in a letter to a church that was in danger of tearing itself apart.
Part of the power of Paul’s words lies in how he draws attention to the dynamic between ritual, sharing, and the body. In just one verse he indicates how the Church participates in horizons of the human and divine, of the present as well as the eternal.
There is a sacramental ‘thickness’ in this work of body and ritual that transforms the world whilst simultaneously revealing the deepest realities of the universe.
There are days when I lose sight of the gifts of grace embedded in the Church. This can happen when I feel devalued because it seems unable properly to love and celebrate people like me; often it’s when I hear stories of the abusive and coercive behaviour of the institution towards LGBTI+ people and others.
And yet … the cup of blessing … the bread that we break … remain. For the Body and Blood of Christ to be blessings they must be breakable, shareable, spillable; they must remain contingent, fragile and precarious.
Ironically, this is good news.
For though it is true that which is contingent and fragile is readily destroyed and abused, its openness and limitation also signal the possibilities of radical community. In precariousness, there is space for love and communion and change.
Our bodies have a radical openness to the world for they are of it (just as they gesture towards something ‘other’, too). And, great joy! God has dwelt with us, as one of us.
In the midst of the violence we might inflict on one another, there is also the possibility of love and tenderness and mutual recognition. There is the possibility that all – gay and straight, trans and cis – might share in and be transformed by the Body and Blood of Christ.
This is more than comfort. This is truth which reformulates a shattered and shattering world.
God of Broken Bread and Wine Outpoured, be with us in the fractured possibilities of our lives; sustain and refresh us and make your Body, in all its glorious wonder, whole.