Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
"While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, 'Take; this is my body.' Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." -- Mark 14:22-24
This passage from Mark is one of the sources for, what priests and academics call, The Institution Narrative or Words of Institution. It is the moment during The Eucharistic Prayer when we hear again the story of the first Eucharist: the story of how Jesus gave his disciples his own Body and Blood in bread and wine on that last night before he died. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago it is also another opportunity to "remember" what happened so many years ago that still ring true for us today, something that transforms us and makes us new every time we come to the rail for bread and wine, body and blood.
When I reflect on the Eucharist, dozens of special memories bubble up. When I was thirty and discovering the Church as community for the first time, my friend Tommy knelt beside me at the communion rail one Sunday morning. After he had received the wine, he put his palm against my back as I drank. When I think of that moment I can still feel the light, warm touch, a gesture of simple caring and companionship, solidarity in the holy mystery of being the Body of Christ.
Then there was the Beach Eucharist at Virginia Beach one year with friends and visitors, and passerby's. The warm sun was giving life to our soul and bodies and the sound of the waves and lapping water on our feet recalled God bringing order out of chaos, my baptism, the parting of the Red Sea, the women at the well...so many things enlightened our senses of the mystery we were partaking in. We sang to the music of guitars, mandolins, and violas and we knew God and Jesus was right there with us. We never fully understand or comprehend but we need to recall, remember, and once again, be made new.
When my classmate and friend Chip celebrated his first communion at his ordination, I could not keep from weeping as he placed the bread into my hands. He was manifesting outwardly who he had always been, and it was a triumph and a blessing to us all.
On the other hand, I have also worshipped in places where I had real issues with the priest. But I still worshipped every Sunday there and received communion. The mystery of the sacrament overshadows everything else, and I acquired a certain mettle that makes me tenacious in the service of that in which I believe.
I have been nourished by hundreds of Eucharist's. Deep down, where I don't usually notice it, they have fed my soul in a steady and sustaining way. Sometimes they are so rich my heart longs to prostrate itself before the altar in sheer awe and adoration. Sometimes I practically keel over with boredom. But each celebration is a mysterious source of life and strength, and I cannot even begin to explain why that is and how it happens.
All I know is that without this ritual I am diminished. Without it I am not as well nourished, not as steady and strong of soul. It is my foundation in a very real sense, and I hope all future generations know it as I have. I pray to God it will be so.
See you Sunday and be renewed.
Blessings & Peace,
All Saints Messenger >