Communion


Paul can be a hard case:  blaming illness and death in the community on coming unworthily to the table.  It feels a lot like blaming the victim or the patient.  And it resulted, historically, in my church, in most members (for many years) receiving communion (at most) once or twice a year.

That’s really putting the fear of God in us!

So I like Luther’s take (if I understand it) that knowing and feeling your need of the sacrament is coming worthily to the table.

And I like Anne’s take even better:  Isn’t it precisely when you come unworthily to the table that you most need to be there and be fed and graced by God? (more…)

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“… Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so …
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
and death shall be no more …”

I thought of these words, from Dylan Thomas and John Donne respectively, when my friend and colleague, Marcia, died just before this All Saints’ Day.  I think they capture some of the tension I feel between my sense of loss and anger when someone dies and my belief in the promise of fullness of life with God in the communion of saints. (more…)

I saw this quotation from William Temple (a former Archbishop of Canterbury) in the Forward Day By Day for Sunday (October 2):

“In our dealings with one another let us be more eager to understand those who differ from us than either to refute them or to press upon them our own tradition ….  Wherever there are divisions which persist, there is sure to be something of value on both sides.” (more…)

And this poem, on the Last Supper, From Open Windows and Unlocked Doors:

it will be a long night
with this feast
of fish, olives, wine and bread;
their sweet aromas are mingling with
the smoke of the flickering candles. (more…)

This is also from Episcopal Cafe’s Daily Episcopalian.  It’s by Ann Fontaine, who I knew when I was at St. Andrew’s in Meeteetsee, Wyoming (though she may not remember me).  I actually left a comment of my own on the original posting.  Anyway, here’s her article:

As Holy Week nears I see church bulletins and websites publicizing liturgies and events, welcoming others to come and participate. One of the more popular offerings is a Seder. As soon as I see this, I remember a student colleague from divinity school saying, “Why do you Christians steal our sacred rites? You have not suffered as we have suffered at your hands, yet you feel free to take our liturgies for your pleasure.”

This is similar to questions Native Americans ask when Euro-Americans hold sweat lodge ceremonies. How can those of us who have not walked the path of another tradition and lived with the oppression and violence skim off the cream of an “interesting” ritual? Doesn’t taking a ritual out of it’s cultural context cut off its roots? Rather than a living tradition, tended and shaped by history and the life around it, the ritual seems to become only the flower picked for its ability to decorate. (more…)

The following meditation was written by David G Mullen, retired bishop and pastor of the ELCA:

 Christ, why this cannibalism?  Do I really have to eat you?  Your words are offensive and disgusting: eating your flesh, drinking your blood.

 

I confess that my inclination is to spiritualize what you ask for.  Let’s make this about believing the right things about you, or about the pursuit of some sort of warm religious experience of union and bliss.  Show me a pathway away from your flesh and blood.  Show me an escape from the human condition you entered.  Show me how to avoid the sweaty, stinky, bad-breathed, farting, hard-faced, arm-crossed chests of the people who are your body.  Show me a way to escape from the homeless with their signs at the freeway exits; the gangsters driving their booming cars; this aging body; the moldering grave; the death of those I love and those I fear; the horror and brutality of the murderous human condition: from your tortured corpus on the Cross.

 

But, you say, “I am the bread of life.”  You call me to open the mouth of mind and heart wide, to take in and chew on the realities of the human condition you entered and loved and saved.  Eat my flesh!  Take all this in, swallow it, digest it, excrete that which is mere waste, and live on the rest.

 

Christ, if the only escape from you and all that you entered is soul death, then give me the grace and courage to eat–your flesh, the flesh of us all.  Eating you, I chew on eternal life.