Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.Matthew 26:26-28
Feeling God Is Distant
He was in the southwest corner of Utah. The campsite was remote and he was all by himself.
But what felt worse was that he felt that even God wasn’t anywhere near him.
He walked out of camp and down a trail that wound around and up to a ridge above the campsite. After about two hours of walking, he stopped and sat down. He looked down and, in the distance, was his tent.
“That’s what it feels like,” he thought. That’s what it feels like with God. He’s out there, in the distance, far away.
Trying to Find God … and Failing
Have you ever felt that way? That God was so distant as to not be even felt? It’s a miserable feeling!
He was out there, camping, in the remote wilderness of Utah, for … what? He admitted to himself that he was looking for God.
He had left school. A long-term relationship had failed. Then he had failed an important class. He had to “reassess,” as the Dean of Students put it.
So, here he was. In Utah. Reassessing, but really looking for God.
Well, failing at first!
God Comes Near
He walked back to the campsite. It was the heat of the day and he sat down in the shade of his tent.
He got out his Bible. He began to read. For no reason he could say, he began reading Matthew 4. Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
After about an hour of reading, he got to Matthew 26. The sun was setting behind the ridge he had climbed that morning.
As the shadows lengthened he read how Jesus has his last supper with his disciples.
“Take, eat; this is my body.”
“Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant….”
At this last supper Jesus had given his disciples a lasting gift.
Each time they gathered together and “broke bread” (see Acts 2:42) God was coming near to them yet again.
Jesus had died, rose from the dead, and then ascended into heaven 40 days later.
But he wasn’t really gone. In the Sacrament of the Altar, God the Son – Jesus Christ – comes near to everyone.
A Personal Gift
He returned to the “valley” a few days later. He went to church on Sunday. As he knelt at the altar to receive the Lord’s Supper, he knew God was near.
Not “near again” because he realized that God was never far away. He was stuck in his own distant mind. But the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Altar “unstuck” him.
This gift of the Lord’s Supper – while given to the Church as a lasting gift – was also very personal.
God is near to each one of us through this personal gift of Jesus’ body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins.
Heavenly Father, in Holy Baptism you make me your own child. Prepare me to receive the Sacrament of your Son’s body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins. I pray that I will receive this gift personally and that it will strengthen my faith that I may be ready for eternal life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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