October 4th 2015 – World Wide Communion Sunday
I carry two soda crackers in my guitar case – I have since January 1987.
In the fall of 1986, an ecumenical group of theological students, and ministers (including former UC moderator Lois Wilson and my friend Lynne McNaughton) traveled to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. In Chile they were observing human rights organizations, and what life was like for people oppressed and displaced by the military rule of Augusto Pinochet. While they were traveling in Chile, an alleged attempt was made on Pinochet’s life. This group of truth-seeking pilgrims were close enough to hear the aftermath of search helicopters and gun-shots being fired.
My friend Lynne came back to Vancouver and told me about her experience, and how now, when a car backfired driving down 41st Ave, it made her tremble in fear – the last sound she heard like that was a gun-shot.
She also talked about gathering one evening in a barrio, a settlement of people who lived on a garbage dump in Montivideo, Uruguay. Before the visit, the group of Canadians had all had supper together in a nice restaurant. They had eaten their fill and then some, as we tend to do in restaurants, and then met with the community who made their living scavenging the garbage dump. The community had scrimped and saved in order to feed the Canadian visitors.
After the feast, a Catholic priest in their group found himself sitting beside a little girl who had that day acquired from the dump a little package of soda crackers – just two crackers, like you get with a bowl of soup. She opened the package, then looked at the priest and offered him one of her crackers. Of course, he declined the gift. But she insisted that he have one. She insisted on sharing, an act of outrageous generosity, because that’s what the kingdom of God is about.
Talking to the group of Canadians after, the Roman Catholic priest said, with tears in his eyes, that he ate the cracker as reverently as he had ever eaten a communion host, and that from now on when be blessed the host, he would see that cracker.
To this day, I carry two soda crackers in my guitar case, in honour of this child’s generosity, as a promise to never let her story die, and as a reminder of what the realm of God is about. I also I wrote a song about it:
Here in the city a car backfires, You tremble inside with the squeal of the tires.
Half a world away under clouded sun, The last shot you heard was from the barrel of a gun.
A group going down from the Northern Hemisphere
To the wounded world that lives down there.
Where is the Christ who mends the bones of the broken bodies in this war-torn home?
La la la…
You meet in the centre of the refugee camp
The heat from the fire pushes back the cold and damp
Spirits rise as the Gospel is read, liberation comes in the Resurrected Bread.
Moments of grief and moments of grace As you hear their stories and meet face to face.
Yet what shines through in this place forlorn Is the uncanny hope in the Resurrection Morn. La la la
One little girl brought home that day two soda crackers from some café.
She sits by a man – a well-fed priest And says ‘Won’t you join me in the Resurrection feast?”
In the kingdom of God we all shall dine On lots of soda crackers it will be so fine
We’ll have lots of beans and we’ll have lots of rice
Her eyes just sparkled, “It will be so nice.” La, la la…
He quickly declines her generous gift But she holds it up in a sacramental lift
Where bodies are broken and blood is poured Two soda crackers become the risen Lord
And the little girl and the well-fed priest They lead us all in the Resurrection Feast
They call forth hope and action, now this is our change
May we all join in the Resurrection Dance. La la la..
Words & Music copyright 1987 Juanita Lynn Austin