Below is my script for Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon:
At the end of Disney’s The Jungle Book, Mowgli sees a girl from the village collecting water, and he is utterly enchanted!
The panther Bagheera and the Baloo the bear are trying to deliver him safely into the village; but whilst Bagheera knows he must go, Baloo wants him to stay with him in the forest.
But, alas, Mowgli is lost to this new world of wonder!
All week I’ve been relating the story of The Jungle Book to various key aspects of the Christian faith: Following, Contentment, Trust, Identity, Belonging and Threat.
Today, on the day the Church gathers around the world, the ending of The Jungle Book represents Participation.
Baloo sees the danger of losing Mowgli and calls to him, “Come back, come back!”
Baghera knows Mowgli must go on and into his destined future, and urges him, “Go on, go on!”
When Christians eat bread and drink wine, they are both coming back and going on.
Catholics, quite rightly, call the Mass “The source and summit of the Christian life.”
Christianity does not know of passive allegiance, but of joyful, active participation.
The Protestant Churches use every other descriptor for sharing in the bread and wine: Communion; The Lord’s Table; The Lord’s Supper; and Eucharist.
Partaking of the bread and wine, is to partake of sharing in the body and blood of Jesus.
It is a way people can respond to God’s great salvation in the world for all humanity:
solely in the once and for all death of Jesus on the Cross.
On the one hand, we “come back” as it were; we “remember” Jesus in a fully formed past, present and future sense.
We come back again and again. To eat and drink together as one people.
We remind ourselves of our commitment to follow Jesus and what he has done and is doing.
On the other hand, we “go on.” Sharing in the bread and wine is a future event too.
It is the Church acting out the future that God promises.
Those who participate in this holy and magnificent event, are those who, like Mowgli, have been enchanted, or better still, captured by a better vision: a vision of an immanent and transcendent God, who in Jesus Christ, has shown the fullness of all His goodness, beauty and truth.
And through Jesus, we receive the promise and presence of God himself:
Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
All this in bread and wine? Yes! It is the food and drink that wells up to eternal life.