The Body

“For are we not about to receive the Eucharist wherein we come to Christ Himself, and begin to reign with him forever? The Eucharist is our daily Bread. But let us so receive it as to be thereby refreshed, not in body merely but in mind. For the power which we know to be therein is the power of unity whereby we are brought into union with His body and become His members. Let us be what we receive….” St. Augustine.

After dipping our fingers into the basin of holy water and genuflecting toward the altar, we filed down the aisle and into pews.  Because I was not allowed to partake in the Eucharist, Sister Christy asked me to sit in the most interior seat so that I wasn’t required to excuse myself when the Catholic children exited the pews for communion.  This was the particular seating arrangement for all protestant children.

The Liturgy was predictable. We knelt, stood, and sat on que. We returned the peace of Christ to the priest and each other. We watched the consecration of holy bread. We moved en masse to the silent crescendo–that moment when the wine and wafer were said to become the body and blood of Christ. 

Rows were one-by-one excused and children made their way to the altar, forward to the cross of Christ hanging in the apse. Sometimes if I were close enough I could hear Monsignor Galvin identify “the body of Christ” before placing the holy wafer in the cupped hands of child-like faith.  My classmates responded, “amen,”–let it be so.

If my eyes had been awake in that moment, would I have seen what Isaiah saw? Would I have known that the unleavened bread burned red-hot? Would I have sprung from my protestant place, eyes chalice fixed, sprinting to the cup of salvation?

“This is the Body of Christ,” he would say, and longing to live in the midst of that holy metaphor I would respond, “Amen.”

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10 Responses to The Body

  1. The Eucharist continues to fascinate and call to me, as it did to a whiney six-year-old who just wanted to snack with all the adults. I remember my mother’s reprimand, that I couldn’t eat that bread. That we would talk about it at home. That night I met Jesus, and believed as only a six-year-old can, and the next time they passed the plate, I was allowed to munch along with the pensive parents.

    Now when communion calls I often feel the same fresh faith of that six-year-old, both in that I am renewed by God’s unfailing patience and humbled by my immaturity and lack of understanding of the act. I often wonder in those silent moments of lining up and kneeling and smiling across the aisles, what other Christians feel in the Eucharist. It seems a closely kept secret. We bow and prepare our hearts, but that can’t look the same for me and you. I’d love to hear more, or be directed to anything written on the subject. The debate is usually about what happens theologically – big picture. But, I’m interested in the personal narratives of each bowed head.

    Thanks for the reminder. I know God continues to use that holy metaphor to mold me.

    • sethhaines says:

      I am so glad you brought up the issue of personal narrative. This fascinates me about communion also. I remember being a child at my grandmother’s church (Church of Christ) and wondering why all the quiet and solemnity centering around such a little piece of cracker. Only now am I starting to really understand.

      I’d love to hear your communion stories (and others) fleshed out. I like the idea of finding the thread that runs through the narratives.

      Thanks much for stopping by. I hope you’ll become a mainstay.

  2. Towards the beginning of Ann’s book (Voskamp), she talks about this. And points out the part where Jesus says “…whenever you take this bread…”.

    The *whenever* part.
    And the wine too. Daily things, back then. Wine and bread.

    She talks about how Jesus is saying that *whenever* (i.e. daily, when we eat/drink) we take those things, we remember Him. Whenever we eat and drink. We thank Him, and remember.

    It really felt like a wow moment for me. I had all but forgotten the whenever part.

    Does this change the ritual of the Eucharist? I don’t know. It made me want to research the whole thing all over again.

    I’ve been to churches who do communion quarterly, monthly, weekly. Some who told me I needed to make sure I’d forgiven everyone in my life before partaking, as I frantically searched my mind wondering who I was forgetting. Others who told me it is simply a way we can connect with that day, way back when. Others who had us line up and feel rushed and grab the juice and bread and shove it into our mouths and run off, little time to even think.

    I tend to not be fond of things made up after the bible, in general, and I’d like to know what is that and what isn’t, on this. You know?

    I’m rambling again. But this is another topic I’m thinking on…

  3. I love the ramblings of a seeking spirit. And I love going back to research it all again. Sometimes I feel my distance and feelings of immaturity come from the watered-down version of these things to which I’ve become accustomed. Any suggestions on wisdom on the subject? Where can we start?

    • sethhaines says:

      This is a place to ramble a bit. That’s kind of why I wanted to do it. I wanted a place where we could all flesh out thoughts about art, create a bit of art, and flesh out some theology, hopefully with an eye on Scripture throughout it all. Again, maybe this is too ambitious, but I like the small group that is assembling.

      I love the idea of whenever. I like the idea that whenever we eat or drink we remember his sacrifice. In the same way that bread and wine sustains us, so does he. I love the thought that each meal-time conversation might be an opportunity to remember that kind of life. And maybe that doesn’t change the ritual, maybe it amplifies it. Maybe Eucharist/communion becomes an extension of the mindset we carry with us all day. Truthfully, I’m not sure how to carry on like that just yet.

      Maybe we could start with scripture? Maybe tomorrow’s reading should be about bread-breaking, communion, eucharist. Might be a good launch point (anyone want to do it? see Amber’s reading from last Friday). Then, maybe we try to find early church sources? Just some thoughts.

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