When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. Luke 24:30-31
Yesterday, I mentioned how some make intentional and obvious eye contact during communion. Looking someone in the eye can tell you a lot about that person; especially when we are engaged in something as intimate as the Lord’s Supper. I am continually amazed and humbled each week as people come forward, one by one and look me in the eye.
On Easter Sunday, I was struck by two people in particular. The first was a young boy who was about eight years old. He looked sheepishly up to meet me eye to eye, and had a look of uncertainty about him. Instinctively I knelt on one knee so that we could be on the same level, and as I placed the wafer in the hand of this young man, his eyes lit up and he flashed me a great smile. After receiving the wine I heard him tell his mother, “I told them thank you, but next time I want to say Amen.” Can’t argue with that.
The other person that made an impact was an elderly woman who could not come up the aisle. To put it simply, her legs don’t work as well as they used to. As we walked over to where she was sitting, the woman was looking toward the floor, almost as if she was saddened that we had to come to her. The beautiful moment came when she had finished the small cup of wine and she raised her head. Her eyes were wide open and staring right into mine. I almost didn’t want to walk away, but of course I had to go.
Sometimes I try to imagine the look in the eyes of the twelve as they sat down to share the Passover meal in the upper room. As Christ passed the broken loaf, surely the disciples looked him in the eye. There also must have been some very intense stares that were passed across the table as our Lord told them that one in their midst was a traitor. I can’t imagine the looks of disgust and puzzlement on the remaining eleven as Judas Iscariot shamefully left the room. At least that’s how I imagine it happening.
Then there is the look that I imagine the two disciples who walked the Emmaus Road must have had as they shared a meal with the risen Lord. As they made their way home, they were dejected, filled with grief; no doubt looking down much of the time. Then the risen Christ joined them on their journey, but they did not recognize him. Jesus opened their minds to the Holy Scriptures. Then, as they shared the meal, Jesus opened their eyes to God’s amazing grace. What words can we use to describe such a look? Joy? Wonder? Awe? None of these seems to capture the feelings they must have had as they encountered Jesus, who was crucified, yet he lives.
There are many looks on the faces of people as they come to receive Holy Communion. Some look down. Some are very serious. Some even come to the table smiling with great joy. Everyone who comes to the table has walked their own Emmaus Road. They have all made a journey through life’s doubts and sorrows to get to the table in order to meet Jesus. I pray that as pastor and people make eye contact during the distribution of bread and wine, Christ warms our hearts and opens our eye to God’s unfailing and eternal love.
These are the things I see, these are the things I feel. As God’s people come to the table, I can see so much through these windows of their souls. I see people who are hungry and searching, coming to the risen Christ that they may be fed. I see people who come in faith, hope, and love. I also try to keep in mind that for everyone whom I look in the eye, there is someone who is looking back at me. Perhaps one day I will ask someone what they see as well.