Eucharist As Presence and Present To The World
We come once again to the time of the Eucharist. At my church, we remember/celebrate this act once a month. Usually it’s the first Sunday, but since next Sunday, there is no service. We are canceling our Sunday service to go out as the Body of Christ and extend our faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I thought it appropriate to talk about this month how the Eucharist can be seen as both a signpost of the presence of God in the world and as a doorway to gifting the world with our faith. The Eucharist is not just about what we can get from and through it, but what we can do, offer, and extend because of the power we receive when we partake of the bread and wine of Jesus. In the Eucharist, we remember who Jesus is, what Jesus did in his life, death and resurrection; what Jesus continues to do and we renew our commitment to follow Jesus, to be followers of the way. The Christian life is lived in community. When we gather we most apprehend the presence of Christ among us and are most able to step forward in faith and help our needy brothers and sisters.
Brennan Manning: Imagine the ecstasy, the cry of joy when God makes a person in his own image! When God made you! The Father gives you as a gift to himself. You are a response to the vast delight of God. Out of an infinite number of possibilities, God invested you and me with existence. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I can love myself not in spite of my flaws and warts but with them. Such is the acceptance of the God of Jesus.
I would say that God does not just gift us to himself but also to the world. God purchased us for a price and a reason. We were saved not for our personal sake but to be a living sacrifice, presence, and present to the world. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The doing comes after we have been saved; after we have been redeemed, we do good. It’s an outward sign of an inner movement. Our doing good deeds are God working through us.
I have said before how I like Rob Bell’s idea that we can be a living Eucharist. This idea resonates with my hope and intention that faith in Christ is as much if not more about living a life of compassion and joy then saying the right words, believing the right things, or attending the perfect church. None of us are as we should be and we never will be the good news that attacks us is that God loves in spite of it. God’s love enables us to live the life that we ought to live, but without God, this is not possible. Without God, we are lost at sea; with God, we have purpose and strength to live lives of compassion and joy.
Service is a sign of God, the very embodiment of love expressing Himself through us. We are given many occasions to serve and experience love and joy. We need to help our needy brothers and sisters to find the love, joy, and hope we ourselves crave. We can offer our time, energy or money in worship to others. In any situation, especially in crisis we are to respond in love, to be Jesus to the world. Bad things will happen the key is to love in spite of it all. Hate and despair are realities, our role is to offer love, joy, and hope to a world that desperately in need of it. We can extend and offer love instead of hate, hope instead of despair, and joy instead of sadness. We can always do something to show the love and grace that has been lavished on us. We can offer our life to others who need to see how much God loves them. Mother Teresa said that we should find one person who feels they are alone and show them that they are not, that they are loved.
Robert Benson: Sure, people need Jesus, but most of the time, what they really need is for someone to be Jesus to them. If the Christ is to appear incarnate in this world these days, then it will be because we are Jesus to other people.
I may be stepping out of the theological box by saying what I have in this post about the Eucharist, but I don’t think so. Jesus does not want us to hide our faith or what God is doing in and through us. Jesus wants us to let our light shine and to remain salty so that the whole world, that everyone will see God through us and will come running to see that God is good. We are to beacons of God’s light, love, joy, and hope for a world gone and going mad. When Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus is telling us to live in remembrance of him as much as he is saying break the bread, drink the wine in remembrance of Him.
So, the next time you partake of the bread and wine consider all the ways you can and should live in rembrance of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. How may you be Jesus to a world gone and going mad?
John Wesley: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
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