The host I received at Communion today was a broken part of a much larger host. Its shape was an imperfect, crooked triangle, with jagged edges - and yet within that tiny, imperfect, broken piece of bread dwelt all the holiness and wholeness of Christ, gladly coming to dwell within me.
Brokenness has been on my mind recently, as I've just finished watching Broken, the harrowing, heart-breaking, quietly hopeful BBC drama series about a priest, played by Sean Bean with powerful restraint. He is a strong yet fragile, broken man, imperfect, with jagged edges, ministering to fragile, broken, jagged-edged people in a bleakly despairing, rundown inner city parish. As Sarah Hughes wrote in The Guardian: Bean’s Father Michael is quiet and conflicted, haunted by his past and battling a sadness that has seeped deep into his soul. He commands the screen, his pain flitting across that gaunt, ravaged face...
In each episode we have seen him breaking the bread of Eucharist, and at this holiest of moments suffering guilt and flashbacks to the darkest corners of his childhood. His ministry means there's no hiding or running away: day in, day out, he performs the actions and says the words which fill him with darkness and dread, even as they fill him and his broken congregation with the healing love and wholeness of Christ. And indeed Christ is present throughout each episode: often, as he sits down with someone, Father Michael pauses to light a candle, to remind us that God is here, in all the pain. There is light within the darkness, and, underpinning each episode, a strong, unbreakable faith. Michael may well struggle with his vocation, be aware of his brokenness and weakness, frustrated, angered and rendered helpless by unjust situations and haunted by his inability to resolve them, but his faith in God, his hope and belief in the presence of goodness remain intact.
A need and a hunger so many of us have known and can resonate with - yes, there is indeed indescribable power in those tiny wafers, and in the faith which receives them. And that is why Jesus gives us himself, in the daily, everyday miracle of the Eucharist; why he allows himself to be broken, hour after hour, day after day, as vital food for our journeys and the healing and wholeness of all our flaws and jagged edges.