This is a guest post by Lenora Rand.
Last year at the Wild Goose Festival, the band, The Liturgists, hosted a worship experience one night, which culminated in communion. I was among several people invited to help serve. As each person came forward and stood in front of me, I tore off a small piece of bread, dipped it into a cup of wine, and offered it, along with the words many people say as a part of this church sacrament, “The body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ, shed for you.”
Every time I’ve gotten the chance to serve communion in this way, I’ve been bowled over by it. I always get the feeling, as I look into the eyes of the person standing a foot away from me, speak to them and offer bread and wine, that I am participating in something way beyond words and actions, something amazingly intimate and absurdly holy.
The Wild Goose Festival draws a diverse crowd but a large number of them come from traditions in which communion is served by ushers passing around big silver trays filled with shot-size glasses of grape juice and broken up cracker-like objects. To receive the Lord’s Supper you, in the quiet of your pew, chew up a piece of cracker and wash it down with a hit of juice. This is a solitary moment of reflection. Usually, the only words spoken come from the minister far away at the front of the sanctuary.
So when people came forward that night at Wild Goose, for a lot of them, taking communion in this more personal way, was a first. I could see it in their eyes, looks of surprise and gratitude, as well as confusion, sometimes sadness, and even, wonder.
I was overwhelmed in that moment with how much I wanted to help feed hope and pour love into the souls standing before me.
I was also suddenly so uncomfortable with the words I have always known to say during communion. As they were coming out of my mouth, my head was swirling with questions about whether these particular words adequately reflected my beliefs anymore.
The body of Christ, broken for you.
The blood of Christ, shed for you.
That night, I’ll admit, I even tried to improvise a little, tried out some other words I thought I could say with more confidence, but to be honest, it wasn’t always pretty. It may have been theologically and poetically cringe-worthy, at times, kinda like George Lucas crossed with Dr. Seuss. So, I often ended up just reverting back to the comfort and ease of the words I’ve heard all my life.
I started thinking about it afterwards though. Wondering, what do I really believe about atonement? And about this sacrament? What else could I say with conviction during communion?
So I began doing some research into what other churches and faith communities are thinking about and saying during the Eucharist. And in the process, I ran across a whole lot of people who feel very strongly on the subject (including a number who are, by the way, very much against the “intinction” method of delivering the elements — the way we did it that night at Wild Goose, and how we always do it at my progressive evangelical church in Chicago — since they feel it’s biblically incorrect).
I also decided to read Tony Jones’s book, Did God Kill Jesus? to help me think through some of my questions about atonement. In the book Tony looks at the various ways Christ’s death on the cross has been viewed throughout the history of the church and asks 6 key questions about each one.
What does the model say about God?
- What does it say about Jesus?
- What does it say about the relationship between God and Jesus?
- How does it make sense of violence?
- What does it mean for us spiritually?
Where’s the love?
Now, I’m not a pastor or seminary graduate or person who generally has a whole lot of patience with theological discussions. (And between you and me, I almost giggle a little every time someone says Penal Substitutionary Atonement…you know what I’m talking about.)
However, I am a person who finds myself in a church pew most Sunday mornings, full of questions and doubts and hope and longing…someone who has, for a good portion of my life, been trying to figure out what following Jesus might actually look like, in the midst of an overly demanding corporate job, bills to pay, kids to raise, boatloads of laundry to do. And I found Tony’s book incredibly readable and clarifying. It even occurred to me that his 6 questions might not only be a helpful lens for what Christ’s death on the cross could mean, but also an interesting way of examining a lot of things we Christian-y types believe and do…including how we do communion.
After finishing the book, I ended up writing down some things I felt like I could say with conviction when offering the bread and wine, some things, I realized, I’d also like to hear when communion is being served to me.
Christ is here, in your brokenness
Christ is here, bringing you to life
Christ broken, with us in our brokenness
Christ’s life, flowing through our lives
The bread of life.
The cup of love.
But, that’s just me, I realized.
Communion is, by its very nature, communal.
So, I began to casually bring up this question in conversations with some folks in my church, including more than a couple, who, I discovered, like me, struggle with the words being said, and find the experience often feels exclusionary, full of hot buttons about who’s in and who’s out.
But who are hungry for it. Desperately hungry to feel God’s presence, dying for a gulp of God’s amazing grace.
After hearing that, and with my own questions, I recently took another step. I asked my pastor if we could gather a small group of people in our church, a mix of seminary professors and “regular people” — men and women, old and young, from different races, different occupations and religious backgrounds (in short, a cross section of our church) to look at all the words we say during communion, through the lens of the Bible and church history and also personal histories and experiences. My hope is that we could, together, make sure what we’re saying is what we really believe, and what can truly fill us.
She thought it sounded like a good idea too, and it’s something we’ve decided to try to do during Lent. I’m very appreciative that she’s willing to help convene a conversation about this. Willing to wrestle with it herself within our community.
Sure it’s just a few words… but every time I remember those faces from the Wild Goose communion last summer, those eyes looking up at me as I served them bread and wine, hungry for hope, thirsty for blessing, I know that these are words that matter. Maybe more than we know.
When she’s not working at her very full time job, Lenora blogs about her quest to be more godly when you’re not very good at it at Spiritual Suckitude and helps direct The Plural Guild, a collective creating music, prayers, visual art & liturgy for people of faith and doubt, who are trying to follow the Jesus who so loves the world. She also writes lyrics for the band The Many.
Because “It’s not you, it’s me” won’t cut it.New Line CinemaThere’s a reason why people end up saying things like, “It’s not you, it’s me” and “Just give me one more chance!” during a breakup.
Even if you’ve seen the conversation coming for weeks or months already — and especially if you haven’t — you can be left teary and tongue-tied when the moment arrives.
Which is why it helps to have on hand some more constructive phrases, and a general idea of how you might handle the situation without coming off as disingenuous or desperate.
Business Insider consulted relationship expert Andrea Syrtash, author of “It’s Okay to Sleep With Him on the First Date,” for some of those phrases and strategies to use when you’re breaking up with someone after a few months. Here’s what she told us.
If you’re being dumped and it’s a total surprise:
Syrtash emphasized that there’s no one, blanket statement that can make a breakup less awkward for the person on the receiving end. Even if you do have a stock answer ready for the moment, you’ll probably be so upset that it won’t come out right.
Instead, you might say something like, “I was on a different page. It would be helpful for me to know how long you’ve been feeling this way.“
Syrtash said the top complaint she hears from clients who have just broken up with someone is that they have unanswered questions.
That’s why she said it’s okay to ask some questions, such as the one about how long the person has known they wanted to break up with you or, “Can you identify why you don’t think we’re compatible?” It’s also okay to express that you’re feeling disappointed.
If the person identifies a particular experience that turned them off, you can certainly ask if they want to work on the issue with you — but be prepared for them to say no. Keep in mind, Syrtash said, that the decision to break up doesn’t have to be unanimous, so a discussion won’t necessarily change the situation.
And remember that it’s not always appropriate to ask, “Is there someone else?” You may not get an honest answer.
If you’re dumping someone:
Oftentimes, Syrtash said, when someone’s getting broken up with, their instinct is to show the other person how great they are. Remind them that you’re not bringing out their best, and that the relationship isn’t healthy for either of you.
You can say something like: “You deserve to be with someone who brings out the best in you. I don’t think we are bringing out each other’s best.”
Another option here is: “I want the best for you and I don’t feel that I can provide it. I feel awful because I care about you a lot, but I need to be honest.”
As hard as this is for you, remember that it’s hard for the other person, too. That’s why it’s important to be patient, and to listen and be kind.
If you’re reading this, there is a pretty good possibility that you have been through at least one job interview. In fact, there is a good possibility that you currently have a job or an internship as of right now, and if not, then you are probably in the middle of applying. First, comes the web search, which I know, can be extremely tedious and time-consuming in and of itself. Then, comes the application that you have to fill out, which includes putting in your name, date of birth, address, and two of the most important pieces, your resume, and cover letter. Oh, and there is also your contact information. Speaking of contact information, may God help you if you do not know your freaking email address or phone number because, at that point, you can say goodbye to the position considering there is no way to reach you! Next, comes the interview, which you earn depending on how satisfied they were with your application… and if you typed in your phone number correctly. This brings me to some of the things I would like to warn you of, having to do specifically with the interview process. Of course, I’d have to agree that there is no one way to answer the interview questions as everyone has their own opinion of what a good answer should be. However, let’s just say that there are some answers that should most certainly not be given during the interview.
Tip 1: Don’t Give Your Life Story
One of the most common introductions that are given in the beginning of an interview is to tell them a little about yourself. This answer should be succinct and to the point, and obviously it should tie in with the position you applied for. In other words, talk about yourself in a way that relates to why you decided to apply for that position specifically. Whatever you do, do not, I repeat do not, talk about your freaking life story. Don’t begin by talking about what city you were born in, how your daddy taught you to ride a bike without training wheels, and how you met your lifelong best friend in kindergarten. Trust me, they do not give a shit about any of that. I know, we are so tempted to immediately give out an answer as such as it is more relaxing and less intimidating. But… no, just no. The interviewer who is investing their professional time to interview you and plans on investing money to pay you to do a particular job does not care about the time when you aced your first-grade spelling test.
Tip 2: Don’t Pretend You’re Perfect
Another question they may ask you, is “What is your greatest weakness?” Even to this day, I wonder why such a question is asked. I understand, “What is your greatest strength?” But, your greatest weakness? Why exactly is that important? Well, they ask you this because they know that nobody is perfect. So, they want to know what specific weakness inhabits you so that they can get a sense of how you have been working to overcome or combat that weakness. With that being said, do not, I repeat do not, answer with, “Well, I wouldn’t say that I have any weaknesses” or “I’m a perfectionist.” Now, you’re doing one of two things: (1) you are either being narcissistic and are bragging about yourself, or (2) you’re just looking for an easy way out of the question. Both are bad, bad, bad! Trust me, they know you have a weakness, as everyone does. We often misinterpret the question as them suspecting that we have a weakness and that there is a huge pet peeve of weaknesses in the workplace. Wrong. There is nothing wrong with weaknesses. The reality is that they want to know how much strength and perseverance you have in combating those weaknesses. Whatever you do, don’t be as narcissistic as Donald Trump. I know, it may have gotten him the presidency, but it won’t get you the $10 per hour position with no guaranteed employment. I don’t get it either, but that’s just how it is.
Tip 3: How To Convince Them You Belong There
A question that will also be asked, most likely towards the end of the interview, is “Why do you want to work for us?” Of course, we all need the money. We all have bills to pay. We all have to keep a roof over our heads. We all have to eat. Nonetheless, do not tell them that you need the money. This basically tells them that you are holding no interest in that job at hand. It also tells them that you are not taking the tasks and duties that come with the job, or even the company as a whole for that matter, with seriousness. Answering with, “because I need the money,” is perfectly fine if you’re applying for a job at Burger King or Taco Bell. In fact, that might be the best answer you could provide, because I am sure that the employer expects that the reason for why you choose to flip burgers and clean up grease, is because you REALLY need the money. However, if you are an engineer applying to Dominion Power, an advertiser applying to The Martin Agency, or a journalist applying to CBS 6, you have to provide an answer that says something special about you, something that makes you stand out from the other candidates. After that, once you’re hired, you can go home and make it rain.
Tip 4: Always Be Honest
This is a question that may or may not be asked during an interview. “Why did you leave your last job?” It really just depends on the employer, as to whether or not this is a worthwhile question to be asked. If they do happen to ask it, it’s probably because they think that the reason for leaving any previous jobs may have an outcome on how you perform this job. While it may not be asked, better prepare to give a solid and professional answer. With that being said, your answer should include a specific attribute or characteristic that the job you are currently interviewing for has that your previous job did not have. If by any chance you were fired from the job, please, please, please, do not lie! I know, we are all tempted to lie, but really, all it takes is for the employer to call up your previous supervisors and ask why you were fired. Trust me, it is worse for the employer to hear that you were fired because you were late all of the time, than for you to tell them straight up during the interview. The second you lie, you are giving the employer two reasons for why you don’t deserve the job, being that you are a liar and the reason for why you were fired from your last job. I know the temptation to lie is there, but you know what’s also there… cleaning bathrooms at McDonald’s for minimum wage.
Tip 5: How To Make Yourself Seem Promising
Probably one of my favorite questions, only because I am someone who enjoys talking about his future aspirations, is “where do you see yourself in five years?” This is the kind of question where you want to give an answer that shows commitment and passion to the industry. Show that this particular position will be beneficial for where you want to go in the future in regards to that industry. This is something I not only like to talk about during interviews but even to my friends in general. Anyway, whatever you say, do not, I repeat DO NOT say that you wish to be in their seat, or the CEO of the company in five years. Facepalm. To whoever is reading this, if you’re sitting there finding it hard to believe that anyone would give such an answer… my friend, you’d be surprised. Another answer that I beg you not to give and this goes out to any current college students, don’t say that in five years you hope to have graduated. Well, no shit. If you are a senior in college, I most certainly hope that you will have graduated. Seriously, though, that would be like a waiter at IHOP asking how you would like your eggs, and you answer with, “I would like them cooked.” Just… don’t.
There are all sorts of questions that may be asked in an interview. It is important to consider every single one of them, as the interviewer is going to look for a solid and professional answer, let alone an answer that actually answers the question. Anytime you have an interview coming up, always do a little rehearsal by making a list of some of the most common questions to be asked and prepare answers for them. Write out a script with the answers if you need to. Stand in front of the mirror and pretend to talk to the interviewer if that helps at all. Videotape yourself and then watch it, while looking for mistakes or ways to improve. Ask a friend to pose as the interviewer. Whatever you do, treat the interview day as if you are getting ready for a play. Have the questions and answer locked up in your mind. The second you are greeted by the interviewer, know what they are going to ask, and know what you are going to say.
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