The Eucharistic body and blood of Christ is a place we must come to again and again to find our own face, to find our deepest name, and our absolute identity in God. It takes years for this to sink in. It is too big a truth for any one moment, too grand and wonderful for our small hearts and minds.
So we keep eating this mystery that is simultaneously the joy of God and the suffering of God packed into one meal. (Some have seen the body/bread as eating the joy and the blood/wine as drinking the suffering.) All we can really do is to be present ourselves, because we cannot ever rationally understand this. Presence cannot really be explained. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – The Mystery of Presence”
Jesus says, “If you eat this bread you will live forever” (John 6:51). It is so interesting that he chooses taste, flavor, and nutrition as the symbol of how life is transferred, and not intellectual cognition. If you live by the momentary identity that others give you, that’s what dies when you die, and you’re left with nothing. Your relative identity passes away, but it is like the painful erasing of an unwanted tattoo. When Jesus says he’s giving himself to you as the “bread of life,” he’s saying, as it were, “Find yourself in me, and this will not pass or change or die. Eat this food as your primary nutrition, and you are indestructible.” This is your absolute and indestructible identity.
We all slowly learn how to live in what Thomas Merton would call the True Self—who you are, and always have been, in God. Who you are in God is who you forever are. In fact, that’s all you are, and it is more than enough. Everything else is passing away. Reputations, titles, possessions, and roles do not determine our identity. When I hand out the Eucharistic bread I love to say to the assembly, “You become what you eat. Come and eat who you are—forever!” You access Great Truth by absorption and digestion, almost never by analysis or argumentation.
The ritual of Eucharist clarifies and delineates Christianity from the other religions of the world. We have many things in common, but Christianity is the only religion that says that God became a human body, and we are going to continue to promote embodiment as the way of knowing. God became flesh, as John’s Gospel puts it (1:14), and Eucharist continues that mystery in space and time. The theological word for that is Incarnation or enfleshment.
Yet it seems that it is much easier for God to convince bread of what it really is than for God to convince us. We alone balk, rebel, and analyze. Let’s be honest and admit that “eat my body and drink my blood” is scandalous talk (John 6:64-66) that has stopped scandalizing us! And so we miss the point. Eucharist is intentionally shocking. It is cannibalistic, intimate, invasive, and sexual! Jesus did not say, “Think about this,” “Fight about this,” “Stare at this.” He just said “Eat this” and “Do this.” Eucharist is a dynamic, interactive event that makes one out of two, just as sexual union does when two lovers want to be inside each other.
If we did not have the Eucharist, we would have to create it, the ritual is so perfect. Sometimes it seems that outsiders can appreciate this more than Christians. As Gandhi said, “There are so many hungry people in the world that God could only come into the world in the form of food.” It is marvelous, that God would enter our lives not just in the form of sermons or Bibles, but as ingested food and drink. Jesus comes to feed us more than just teach us. Lovers can understand that. Others will make high liturgy and abstruse theology out of it.
The mystery of Eucharist clarifies and delineates Christianity from the other religions of the world. We have many things in common, but Christianity is the only religion that says that God became a human body; God became flesh, as John’s Gospel puts it (1:14). Our fancy theological word for that is the Incarnation, the enfleshment. It seems that it is much easier for God to convince bread of what it is than for God to convince us. Incarnation is scandalous, shocking—cannibalistic, intimate, sexual! He did not say, “Think about this,” “Fight about this,” “Stare at this;” but He said “Eat this!” A dynamic, interactive event that makes one out of two. Continue reading “Richard Rohr on the Eucharist”
William Witt discusses in a very interesting blog post the essential matter of the meaning of the Eucharist from an Anglican perspective.
Here are his suggestions on what a trinitarian view of the Eucharist should entail:
Thus, a trinitarian eucharistic theology seems to have the following implications.
1) The risen Christ transcends the sacramental order. (This may at least be part of the concern that lies behind the Reformed insistence that the body of the risen Christ is “in heaven,” as well as the insistence on all sides that Christ is present in a variety of ways, not merely in the Eucharist.) In addition, the doctrines of the ascension and the parousia indicate that in a very real sense we must speak of the absence of Christ from our midst during this period “between the times.” Whatever we mean by “real presence,” this must not be understood to mean that Christ is present among us in the same way that he was present in Galilee during the first thirty or so years of the first century. Continue reading “An Anglican View on Real Presence vs. Substantial Transformation in the Eucharist”
I have published recently HERE a blog post on defining Anglicanism, having as a starting point a blog post by Carson Clark, another Evangelical turned Anglican, like me.
Reacting to some discussions on Facebook around this subject and a fierce attack on Carson Clark by Robin Jordan, and Anglican fundamentalist (yes, there is such a thing as Anglican fundamentalism; the devil continues to disguise himself as an angel of light even among Anglicans, not only on the left – if you know what I mean, but also on the right) – Jordan is the author of the Anglicans Ablaze blog, my colleague Perry Mansfield, another former Evangelical traveling on the ‘Canterbury trail’ recommended me the blog of William G Witt. As you can see in his short life story at the link under his picture, Bill is himself a former Baptist that became an Anglican, mostly in dialogue with Catholicism. Continue reading “Non sermoni res – An Anglican blog worth exploring”