Sharing Christ (May 16, 2012)

…Opening To…

The liturgy of the Eucharist is best understood as a journey or procession. It is the journey of the church into the dimension of the Kingdom. (Alexander Schmemann)

…Listening In…

Isn’t the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Isn’t the loaf of bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one loaf of bread, we who are many are one body, because we all share the one loaf of bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; context)

…Filling Up…

We have reached the penultimate moment in our survey of twelve moments that take place in the typical Episcopal Sunday service. Like the Peace, the act of sharing Communion every Sunday was not commonplace until a little over thirty years ago. The Episcopal Church preferred the service of Morning Prayer and had Communion only occasionally. But with the “new” Prayer Book (that’s in quotations because it came out when Jimmy Carter was president), the church shifted to Communion every Sunday.

So what happens when we take Communion? What’s really going on? Well, I’ll give you two answers. The first is going to sound like I’m copping out, which I am, but for good reason. The second will take up the rest of this discussion. The first answer to what’s really going on is this: “I have no idea.” Seriously – the mystery of the Eucharist is way beyond my pay grade. I do know that something is happening because of the nourishment and joy that people receive when they take Communion, but don’t ask me to do the math.

That being said, here’s the second answer. When we share the bread and wine, we are completing the Eucharistic moment that began with the prayer of consecration. No one can give you a satisfactory answer to when the bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. If we could, then the words we say would be magic – hocus pocus, if you will. (By the way, those magic words come from the Latin for “This is my Body.” Cool, huh?). Rather, the blessing of the bread and wine takes the entire Eucharistic moment and culminates in the sharing of the Body and Blood. If we consecrated the elements and then didn’t share them with one another, then that would seem strange right?

The Body and Blood of Christ are meant to be shared. We take in the bread and the wine; thus we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. But, we too, are members of that same Body. So when we partake of Holy Communion, Christ nourishes us with the sharing of his Body so that we can share of ourselves as his Body. We share our gifts as we do God’s work in the world. And the sharing of Christ in the Eucharist nourishes and empowers us to do so, and to do so together, as the one Body.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you shared your Son with us when you sent him into the world to save the world. Help me to take him and so I may be a part of his Body and serve you, walking in his footsteps. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, nourished by the bread of life that you sent to the world, Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

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