By Khalia Williams, Adjunct Professor of Worship
As I prepared for worship this past World Communion Sunday, I did so with a torn feeling. How does one prepare to celebrate a day of unity and ecumenical cooperation across diverse denominations and cultures at a time when humanity seems so divided? If we look back over this last year, we witness a world that has experienced political unrest, inhumane violence, racial injustice, gender oppression, natural disasters, and severe economic struggle. I entered into this day of an international liturgical celebration knowing all of this was meeting us (and continues to meet us) right there at the table; this table of broken pieces.
It was the idea of this table of broken pieces that made me feel that my preparation for this World Communion Sunday’s worship leadership and sermon just wasn’t enough. There weren’t enough words that I could conjure up to fix the fact that a few days prior our nation suffered yet another mass shooting. There weren’t enough homiletical tools that would help me skirt the issues of hurt, anger, despair, curiosity, and ambivalence that would meet me in worship on that Sunday morning. I felt like I just didn’t have enough to give; as though all of my efforts would be inadequate. In fact, I felt like the disciples in Luke 9, telling Jesus to send the people away to get food and shelter, because they didn’t have enough. Then I remembered Jesus’ response to the Disciples, “You give them something to eat.” Now we all know the story, Jesus takes their five loaves and two fish, blesses and breaks them, and feeds the multitude, with twelve baskets of broken pieces left over.
It was on this World Communion Sunday that I looked at the table of Christ in a different way, as a table of broken pieces; a table of the miracle of “not enough” becoming more than enough. In my time of preparation, and in the moments of presiding at the table of Christ on this particular Sunday, I learned a lesson. This lesson was simple and familiar, but on this day it seemed to truly resonate. This was the lesson: my limited resources, my limited abilities, my limited supply was actually all that was needed on that Sunday morning, and every morning. While I didn’t think I had enough to share, through the hands of Jesus I had more than enough. And in those times when I feel like I don’t have enough love to give, or enough time to stop and listen, or even enough capacity and will to help, I must remember that through the hands of Christ, there is more than enough.
This was my lesson at the table; and as I continue to stand at the symbolic table of Christ, facing the realities of hurting world, because they meet us at the table; and as I come with my finite abilities and limitations in mind, because they are real; I come knowing that when we place what we have in the hands of Christ, there will always be more than enough to meet the needs of the crowd. So how do we feed the people, when we just don’t have enough? How do we lead in worship when we just don’t have enough?
Answer: Through the hands of Jesus.
Khalia J. Williams is an ordained minister and liturgical artist with a passion for worship and the arts. She currently serves as an associate minister at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, and an adjunct professor in worship at Columbia Theological Seminary. As a Ph.D. candidate in liturgical studies at the Graduate Theological Union, she spends much of her time researching, writing about, and practicing diverse worship with a focus on heightening the awareness of women’s lived-experiences and the body’s role in worship.
Williams will lead “Sacred Survival: Engaging African American Spirituality” from March 31 to April 3, 2016 at the Center for Lifelong Learning. African Americans have made their own history and developed their spirituality as a result of the encounter of a particular people with their God. In this course we will engage lived-experiences, stories, songs and rituals, and trace questions of African American spirituality as a source of survival, healing and hope for oppressed communities. We will explore the historic presence of African American spirituality, as well as the ways in which we understand its impact and presence in today’s society. Registration and details here.