Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hunger and Thirst for the Sacrament

It's never fun to have an anxiety attack. I hate it when they happen. To make it worse, I had one in church on Sunday. What a place to have anxiety! The walls that have heard the words "Fear not. Be still and know that I am God," became witness to my sweaty palms, racing heart, and rapid breathing. My mind kept wandering to the coping strategies that help curb what was going on within me. Except, what was going on around me was exactly what I needed. When I turn to the strategies of reading the Word, I realized that I can find that in the Divine Service I was sitting though in that moment. Whether it is during the liturgy, the readings, and the prayers. The beginning of the service begins with the Invocation, as did my life in Christ at my baptism. Just in case I doubt that my sins are forgiven, the forgiveness of sins is pronounced in corporate confession and absolution.

However, my eyes focused on the Sacrament of the Altar. The medicine of immortality, as my pastor has said to me. Is it some sort of magic that would instantly fix my anxiety? No, not unless God willed it for me in that moment, but that was not what I was asking for anyhow. I wasn't looking for a miracle for my frail flesh, because I know what goes on there goes way past the moment of suffering I am going through. One fear that always gets me in my anxiety attacks is the fear of death, of either myself or my loved ones, and the Sacrament that I and my loved ones partake of is the Medicine of everlasting life.

My greatest fear has been defeated by Christ and given to me as a gift in my mouth and into my body. My broken, fearful self has perfection given to me in my body. I know that there is no merit or worthiness in me. Especially in the moment of anxiety, I know that it is all gift because there is nothing I can do to fix me. It must come from outside of me.

I found myself craving the Sacrament sitting in the pew. As I waited for the Service of the Sacrament, I heard the words of Christ assuring me that He was the Good Shepherd. That He is there to take care of me, when things are going well and when my anxiety is at its worst. During the sermon, my eyes looked to the crucifix, standing above the place where the Sacrament was found. It reminded me of exactly what I was getting in the Sacrament, that is, the very body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine.

The Sacrament, which I may not see the full effects now but will definitely see when I am in Christ's kingdom in heaven, reassures me that I will not always be this way. I will be whole in heaven!! When I take part of the Eucharist, I get a foretaste of what is to come. For now, I must see it through the eyes of faith, but in heaven, I will see it with my own two eyes standing in the presence of God Almighty, who is my Good Shepherd and has taken such good care of me while I sojourn on earth.