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On Being a Detective of Divinity

Rev. Clint Walker

Ministry and Mission Coach

Rural Churches and Bi-vocational Pastors

 

A few years ago, during the era of COVID precautions (such as social distancing and pre-packaged communion cups), I picked up the phone in my office to hear an unusual request.


“Pastor, I live at the Liberty House, and we have been on lockdown. My brother says I need someone to bring me communion. I really want communion. Will you bring me some?”

Liberty House is an assisted living facility in the city of North Platte, where I live for a few more weeks until I move to Wyoming to serve the ABCRM as a Ministry and Missions Coach for rural churches and bi-vocational pastors. Although it houses people of all ages, Liberty House generally houses high-needs younger adults as opposed to being a senior living facility.


“Sure,” I said. “Do you believe in Jesus?”


“I believe in the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit. And I am a Baptist, because John the Baptist was a Baptist, too” she replied.


“Will 2:30 p.m. work?”


“Yes! I will see you at 2:30. Thank you! Thank you! Just come around the back and I will meet you there.”

So, like some sort of a meth dealer coming around the corner of a rehab clinic, I smuggled the body and blood of Jesus down the back alley of an assisted living facility on lockdown in the middle of a pandemic. “This ought to be interesting,” I thought.


As I approached, I prayed, “Lord, be present in this moment. Let your love and grace be present in the sharing of the bread and the cup in such a way that we are all sense your Spirit at work among us. Amen.”


I drove down the alley to what appeared to be the main entrance of the facility. I brought with me the elements I had packed. Three pre-packaged and sealed communion servings were loaded into three plastic easter eggs to make the transport of the elements easier and were sitting on the passenger seat of my car. I had no idea why I packed three servings, as I was asked to serve one person. I just felt led to do so.


I get out. “Are you the one bringing us communion?” my new friend yells out.


“I am. Do your friends want to share with us?”


“Yes, two of my friends heard and want to do communion, too.”


God was at work ahead of me, urging me to prepare for three when I had been asked to prepare communion for one. So, I get out all three Easter eggs containing the elements of the Lord’s Supper. I read through 1 Corinthians 11.

“The body of Christ, broken for you,” I proclaimed. Then, I helped each one of them to open their wafer off the top of the cup. Their fingers didn’t have the dexterity to open that sterile but difficult film at the top of those pre-packaged communion cups.


“This is the New Covenant in my blood,” I said and helped them with the cup.


It was a sacred moment. Three adults, each with challenges that make it hard for them to live independently, stood hungry for the inbreaking of the transcendent God into their lives. Having the body and blood smuggled to them through a back-alley delivery, they experienced the love of Christ in the ritual of the Lord’s Supper. Through presence of the church in delivering and sharing this moment with them, and in their longing for a tactile way to connect with the grace of God, the Spirit of God broke through in a powerful way as four people shared communion in a parking lot on Sixth Street and Willow in North Platte, Nebraska.


Alan Roxburgh, a prolific Christian author and leader of the missional church movement, says that missional leaders/pastors do their work best when they are detectives of divinity. In other words, as we go out into the world around us, we do our best work when we open our eyes to what the Spirit is doing and then we join God in it.


I still have no idea, in the end, how meaningful that moment was for my new friends. But I know it was meaningful for me. It helped me to remember that God is at work in ways that I never expect. And it reminded me that sharing the table, and remembering the sacrifice of Christ, is a powerful way to experience the love of Christ, and to offer solidarity and love to one another. It reminded me that I should not take the Lord’s Supper or what happened on Calvary for granted. As a matter of fact, we should all be hungry and thirsty for the presence of God.


I drove out of the parking lot that day remembering the Emmaus Walk of those two people with Jesus on Resurrection Sunday, who discovered in the breaking of bread that Jesus had been present with them all along. And I mumbled to myself, “Wasn’t my heart burning within me in the breaking of bread?”


Yes. Yes, it was.

 

Rev. Clint Walker


Ministry and Mission Coach

Rural Churches and Bi-vocational Pastors

American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains






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