Mark 14:22-26 is a story that Christians know well, the story of the Last Supper. This is Jesus’ final meal with His twelve apostles before He is to be betrayed, tried, and executed.
Jesus’ posture in this passage is somber and serious, as He administers the bread and wine to the confused and anxious twelve. After all, He had convened this final dinner to tell them the heartbreaking news, that in just a matter of hours, the radical movement they had started three years earlier; will come to a violent end at the hands of a brutal empire, an empire threatened by its message of radical love, liberation, hope, and solidarity.
With this fully in mind, Christ gives His apostles and thus, gives the Church, one of its most beautiful gifts; the Eucharist. With these simple words:
“Take; this is my body… This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”,
Jesus ushers in this beautiful sacrament, this new way of being in community, and this new model of sacrificial Christian love. He gives bread and wine to His apostles, symbols of the literal breaking of His body and shedding of His blood that will come on Calvary, as a sign of an unfathomable grace.
But the Eucharist has a dual meaning. It not only is the gift of God for the people of God, as we say in the Episcopal Church, but it is also a prophetic witness, a living and breathing testament as to what Christ Himself and His followers will have to endure for the sake of justice; persecution, discrimination, ridicule and death.
Who can be a better testament to the “terrible beauty”, in the words of James Cone, of the solemn Eucharist, than LGBTQ people? Are we not, even at this late date, fully realizing the joy and sorrow of the Eucharist? Are we not living testaments to its hope and its despair? Do we not come to the table of Christ seeking both fulfillment and solace from it?
Today, LGBTQ people in the United States and around the world find ourselves in a state of crisis. We are collectively attempting to process the trauma brought on by the ongoing pandemic, the loss of friends, family, and other loved ones, while simultaneously waging a defensive war against the evil powers of homophobia and transphobia that have made their ways back into the national discourse, in state legislatures, and on Governors’ desks. It would appear that we too, find ourselves at a little table in Jerusalem, worried about the fate of that revolution that began all those years ago, at Stonewall, where Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and so many others found the strength to resist.
It would appear that we too, find ourselves at a little table in Jerusalem, worried about the fate of that revolution that began all those years ago, at Stonewall, where Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and so many others found the strength to resist.
Amidst all of this, LGBTQ people within the Church find themselves awash with a flood of emotions; from grief and sorrow to anger and resentment, as theologies that actively harm our communities continue to fester unchecked within far too many churches, Christian colleges, youth groups, and other spiritual communities. And for those of us who navigate the intersections between race, gender identity, and sexuality, this moment finds us worn out and exhausted.
We’ve already had to deal with the shallow analysis and half-assed condemnations of racism by America’s white churches in the wake of the executions of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Now, LGBTQ people of color within the church are hearing the theologically violent sermons of cishet pastors who warn their congregations about our perceived “grooming” behavior, and further stigmatize and marginalize our existence and presence among children.
What does the Eucharist mean for an exhausted Queer community? What does the breaking of Christ’s body and shedding of His blood mean for us as we, now more than ever, face the sorrowful reality of continual death?
It is in these moments of great tragedy, in these hours where our hearts feel heavy with grief and longing, where joy feels abstract and distant, that we, God’s beloved Queer children, fully realize the gift of the Eucharist.
In these dark times, the Eucharist transcends its duality and becomes liberation. It is Christ’s broken body and spilled blood that reveals God’s solidarity with us as we grieve, as we mourn, and as we face persecution by those who call themselves, “Christian”. In the Eucharist, Christ is the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. When we cry out to God, “How long, O Lord?”, the Eucharist is God’s response, “Not long. Fear not, for I am with thee, always”.
In these dark times, the Eucharist transcends its duality and becomes liberation
God is not indifferent towards our suffering, nor is God neutral. God does not validate, “both sides” on the debate over Queer affirmation, but has made the choice to side with us! God is not neutral on white supremacy and all of the hellish terror it has brought to Black and Brown people, God has chosen to become Black and Brown!
Christ is with the Queer child who laments the rejection of her family, for in the Eucharist lies the mourning of Christ at His fate on the cross. Christ is with the anxious Trans child who fears the risks of being their authentic selves, because in the Eucharistic feast is His own angst. Christ is with the newly married Queer couple who celebrate their life together in joy, because the Eucharistic feast is the sharing of a joyous meal. Christ is present in the lifeless body of the Black Trans woman whose name is known only to Him, because in the breaking of His body and the spilling of His blood is Christ’s shared suffering with the broken body and shed blood of His beloved Trans children.
When all hell has broken loose, when we fear the worst, when we are overcome with the instability of our world and all of the emotions it brings, for good or for evil, the Eucharist sits high on Christ’s altar, our constant reminder of His love. It is there for us, even when we don’t feel like it, even when it is hard to believe it, even when it just doesn’t seem to make much sense.
When all hell has broken loose, when we fear the worst, when we are overcome with the instability of our world and all of the emotions it brings, for good or for evil, the Eucharist sits high on Christ’s altar, our constant reminder of His love.
And, as much as the Eucharist is our gift from God for God’s people, it is also a calling to discipleship. It is our reminder that just as Christ gave Himself for us, we are to give ourselves for one another. We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of our community; now more than ever, LGBTQIA people need each other, and all of us have the duty, the vocation, to be there for one another. We must join God in liberating work on our behalf; protesting, writing, resisting, sheltering, comforting, serving, and resisting, for the Eucharist is Christ’s ultimate resistance to the powers of evil with the enduring, the transformative and the Divine power of love.
Talique Taylor is a current English/Creative Writing student at Taylor University in Indiana, where he also serves as a student advocate on behalf of American ethnic minorities on campus. He is a confirmand in the Episcopal Church, and currently serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM) at Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Marion, Indiana. He is originally from the inner city of Chicago, where he grew up on the city’s West Side. He now lives in the Cook County south suburbs. Currently, he is in the early stages of discernment for the Episcopal Priesthood. Talique is a writer, a student-theologian and a history/politics/theology nerd.