body of Christ, cup of salvation {guest post Micha Boyett}

At the Festival of Faith and Writing last year, a notable highlight was spending time with Micha over drinks and good conversation. In the time since, she wrote a book, which I cannot wait to get my hands on this spring. She is a gifted wordsmith with the heart of a mystic, and I love the post she bring us today.

I remember the first time I took communion as a kid. I’d been watching the adults do it all my life. I’d been waiting for the day I’d be brave enough to make a confession of faith, to walk the aisle toward the front of my church’s sanctuary with it’s huge golden chandelier and 80’s orange carpet. One choice, one decision to follow Jesus, and I was welcome at the table.

Then, communion was a symbol. Only a symbol. They said this to us over and over until it was ingrained in our minds. And I understood symbol. I loved metaphor, even as a child, my nose stuck in books.

But then, why would Jesus ask us to do this very physical thing if it only had the power of symbolism? If it was just a symbol, couldn’t we just imagine the bread and wine? Why couldn’t we draw pictures of it and experience it in the same way? Why ritualize it if it only stood symbolically?

No, there was something more to it. That was before I learned about sacrament and liturgy, when ritual was still a dirty word. All I knew was that I wanted to take the Lord’s Supper with gravity. I wanted the bread and wine to do something to me, in me.


By the time I was pregnant with my first son I was learning to pray using contemplative practices. I was embracing the liturgy. And I was in a church that celebrated communion every Sunday with real wine in a shared chalice. My husband and I had been at this church for two years prior to my pregnancy and during those years, I had taken to putting my lips to the shared cup and gulping, despite my husband’s more sanitary bread dip. 

I had this physical need to live the metaphor each Sunday. I wanted to experience the burn of the wine in my throat. I couldn’t help putting my lips to the chalice where all those lips had gone before me. I wanted connection to our community, germs and all. I wanted a physical faith.


Pregnancy is the most physical work I’ve ever done. I felt it in every part of my life. It wrecked me in the hardest and best ways. My body could not build the lives it built without remaking every part of me: how I comprehended, how I experienced emotion, my physical shape, my view of the world. So how could it not also shift my faith?

In those early days of placenta-building and limb-forming, when my stomach rejected every morsel of food given to it, I came to church and begged God to nourish me. I worried, should I gulp that wine in the chalice, me with my early pregnancy and all those studies forbidding alcohol? I dipped for a few weeks, like a good pregnant lady. Then, I couldn’t stop myself. I took the sip straight from the cup. Instead of worrying about the wine or whether or not I’d be able to hold that small bit of bread down, I asked Jesus to go straight through my body and into that little life in me.

Jesus, using me as the vessel, blessing my child.

The thought was too much for me. And so it continued every Sunday, as I grew fuller and fuller with life. Jesus came through bread and wine and I prayed for my little boy in a way I never could with words. I prayed in images, bright colors. I watched the wine and bread flush straight through my organs and nourish my child’s soul. And then I watched Jesus prepare my son for the world. I watched and knew that God had purpose for the little one in me. I believed.

And when my baby arrived, needing my milk, I still took communion with the reverence of a begging mother: Come to my baby, here, through me, I’d pray. Arrive in some way I cannot comprehend.


I love metaphor. I love symbol. But, the resurrection of Christ is bigger than symbol. It happened in the Body. So here we are, heart’s beating, flesh and blood, needing God to meet with us in this cracker and single sip from the chalice. Arrive. Be here, Emmanuel.

Sometimes, we need to see what God is giving us. We need the Spirit world to collide into physical. And, thank Mysterious God, we get to experience that great collision each week. And whatever it is, however it happens. It happens. We are nourished.

Micha Boyett is a youth minister turned stay at home mom attempting to make sense of vocation and place after three cross-country moves in four years. She is mama to two blonde boys and wife to a very tall Philadelphian. Her first book, a memoir of prayer, will be released from Worthy in April 2014. She blogs at Patheos about motherhood, monasticism, and the sacred in the everyday. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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