Friday morning. Cool sunbeams. We scurry toward the church building. Dogs sleep in the churchyard. Kids wave. Friends smile greetings. A deacon clangs the metal oxygen tank that serves as a gong. People wrapped in shawls swarm in. Church begins with loud songs; misty air puffs from our mouths. Then the preacher compares the beautiful Bengali culture of hospitality to Jesus’ strange comments in John 6: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life… Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” I sit up straight. I gasp at the thought.
The preacher says, “When someone visits us, I eagerly hand him a plate and cup. "Please accept our simple fare,” I say. And I feel such joy when he accepts it, and eats and drinks it. He has accepted my request for a friendship. In the same way, Jesus invites us to eat his body and blood - to accept this invitation for a relationship.”
Everyone around me quietly nods her head. I scribble his words down in English. I re-read them, star them, circle them, jab my seat-mate with my elbow, and poke my paper. Now this is exciting.
It’s all about relationship. Remain with Me, He says. Live fully and always. Relationships are everything here. Bengalis understand. I’m learning.