Jason Evans sat at one corner of his dining room table, his wife Brooke seated across from him, two young children at the head of the table between them. An array of crosses hung above the handsome Craftsman-style window on the wall behind him. On another wall, next to the built-in hutch, two art prints urged, “Share your table” and “Sustain.” Around the rest of the table, seven fellow Christians — some regular attendees at other churches — sat and waited for Evans to read and pray before dinner.
He read from Psalm 116: “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.’” Then we joined hands, and Evans said grace: “Creator God...we pray that you bless the hands that made this food, from the soil to the table. Bless this food to our bodies, and our bodies to your service, in Jesus’ name, Amen. Dig in!”
Dig in we did. Noodles were passed and scooped into bowls, and one guest ladled tomato-vegetable soup on top of them. Bread, salad, and cottage cheese made their way around the table. Beers were opened; wine and water were poured. The talk meandered from art to bands to Star Wars exhibits to South Park’s need for a good bookstore.
After 45 minutes or so, Evans read from Luke chapter 24: the disciples meeting the resurrected Christ on the road to Emmaus. The disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, even as “He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” Only when he broke bread with them did they recognize Him. “Anything stand out to anybody?” asked Evans.
James had a question. “I never quite grasped the meaning for the story — they don’t recognize Him, and then He does something and they recognize Him?”
Rick offered an explanation. “For me, it made sense, just because there was something sacred in the ritual of the breaking of the bread. That sort of opened an inner eye for them.”
Jason took up the notion of the sacred. “Jesus breaks bread here, He breaks it at the Last Supper, He breaks it when He feeds the five thousand... It’s very simple — it’s just bread — but it becomes ritual, it becomes sacred, throughout His story.”
James took a stab at the symbolism. “If we as Christians did more breaking of bread, to try to reveal Jesus to people...how do we practice that sacred thing but do it in a way that is so authentic that Jesus is revealed to people?”
Jason answered by quoting from a book by William Stringfellow, a Harlem attorney. “He talks about how the whole point of liturgy is to celebrate the word of God in our lives.... Where do we see the story of redemption and liberation in our own lives...and the lives of other people.... I think that’s why we care about the different issues we do, because we see opportunities for the sacred to be broken open.”
Offered Rick, “I see it in our desiring community, coming together here on Sundays and in other ways. I think this is one way that God opens into our lives — this longing for community.”
That helped Matt, a teacher, finish mulling: “He’s walking with the disciples, and they’re hearing it... ‘Okay, you didn’t figure it out. Let’s do this communion thing. Now, we’re spending time, being close to one another...’ It really comes through those relationships; it doesn’t come through...figuring it out.”
And that inspired Liz to speak up. “I think one of the beautiful things about the passage, and Christianity in general, is that at no time did Jesus ever expect people to say, ‘Oh hey, you’ve come back!’ He’s accepting that people are living within their state of mind, that it takes time to grow and to realize...yeah, Jesus has been there my whole life, but for a good chunk of it I had no frickin’ clue. Then, suddenly, something happens and you’re, like, ‘Oh, yeah.’”
As the evening wound down, Evans prepared to break his own bread: a tortilla, joined by a pottery chalice filled with red wine. Evans read again from the Scripture passage: “When He was at table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. And then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him....” Then he tore off a piece of the tortilla, ate it, and passed the rest to the woman seated on his right. “Christ’s body, broken for you,” he said. She then took the tortilla, tore of a chunk, and passed it along: “Christ’s body, broken for you.” And so it went, around the table, followed by the cup of wine: “Christ’s blood, shed for you...”
What happens when we die?
“I don’t know yet,” said Evans.
Denomination: Anabaptist, but without any direct affiliation
Address: South Park, 619-717-6372
Founded locally: 2004
Senior pastor: Jason Evans
Congregation size: 15-20
Staff size: 0
Sunday school enrollment: 0
Annual budget: no budget
Weekly giving: giving to various causes sometimes encouraged
Singles program: no
Dress: casual to semiformal
Diversity: mostly Caucasian
Sunday worship: 6 p.m.
Length of reviewed service: 1 hour, 30 minutes