Today Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh describe a scene of folk receiving communion.
This Sunday is Communion Sunday for Edna and her children in the wooden pew at the little pink church in Waxahachie. As the minister speaks the words of the institution ('This is my body ... this is my blood'), the choir begins to sing the familiar evangelical hymn 'I Come to the Garden Alone.' The chorus ('And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells I am his own') provides the backdrop was a silver tray containing plastic cups of grape juice is passed from person to person down the pews. Upon drinking the symbolic blood of Jesus, each person says to his or her neighbour, 'The peace of God.' In the company of those partaking of communion and passing the peace, you notice an elderly woman. This woman had been homeless, living in her car, when she was killed by the tornado that raged through town. But now she is among those celebrating the Lord's Supper. Behind the nameless woman, seated on the aisle near the back, you see Moze, an unexpected presence in this segregated white church. Furthermore, the Klan had run him out of town after viciously beating him. He had become yet another victim of racist violence, apparently destined for a vagabond life. But here he is, quietly taking communion in the little pink church.
More takes a cup of juice, drink it, and serves Mr. Will, who is seated next to him. Mr. Will takes a cup, drinks, and serves Possum next to him, who takes a cup, drinks, and passes the tray to her big brother, Frank. As he drinks from the cup, Frank says to himself, 'The peace of God.' It is now his mother's turn. Edna drinks and also repeats the words 'The peace of God.' When finished, Edna turns to her right and passes the cups of juice to her formerly dead husband, Royce, who, in turn, passes it to Wiley, his killer. Looking Wiley directly in the eye, Royce says, 'The peace of God.' With a subtle look that says all is finally well, Wiley drinks and wishes Royce, 'the peace of God.' In the background you hear the words of the hymn, blanketing this scene of serene bliss: 'The joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.' Ears and eyes reveal a time and place in which the peace of God is completely realised and joy is shared by all - life as we know in our gut it should be. Peace and harmony and joy: God's future of shalom.
This description is of the closing scene from the award-winning movie Places in the Heart. Its final surrealistic images of life as it should be. Everyone, even the dead, is present in the little church, giving and receiving from each other the holy sacrament and offering the peace of God. Young widows and fatherless children, homeless women and Klansmen, black folks and white folks. This seemingly mundane ritual has been transfigured by director Robert Benton to portray heaven: life as God intended it to be, when all is set right.
Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian J. Walsh, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in Culture of Displacement (Eerdmans, 2008), pp.197-198.