Here is a short video I put together on the Eucharist, the highest and holiest moment of the Christian life:
Here is another fabulous chat by Jeff and Jon, this time with former Spurgeon’s tutor Rev’d Dr John Colwell.
I met Dr Colwell when he taught on one of my Masters modules in 2009/10 at Bristol Baptist College (Where Helen Paynter has now been appointed – see her interview on one of her areas of great expertise: Violence and the Bible). At the time he taught Systematic and Historical Theology for over 20 years.
Rev’d Dr John Colwell is a wonderful man, and I was so privileged to have him as a mentor for several years during my early pastoral ministry. These days I meet with him in a theology symposium group which is wonderful, and occasionally, for lunch where I can pick his mighty brain on a whole range of issues. I always find it helpful to make the first half dozen questions a mixture between Thomas Aquinas and the nature of God (mental note: It’s John’s shout next time)!!
A Communion Liturgy
The Communion Table is a drama.
Jesus tells us that he was broken for us and died for us.
The bread, like his body, is broken.
The wine, like his blood, is poured out.
Jesus has said a great Divine ‘YES’ to everyone, everywhere.
And when we eat this bread, and drink this wine, we say ‘YES’ to Jesus.
EATING YOUR TRUE SELF
“Jesus says, ‘If you eat this bread you will live forever’ (John 6:51). It is so interesting that he chooses taste, flavour, 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 indestructable.’ This is your absolute and indestructable 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 are forever. In fact, that’s all you are, and it’s more than enough. Everything else is passing away. Reputations, titles, possessions, and roles do not determine our identity. When I hand out the Eucharist 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.”
Richard Rohr, YES, AND…
The biblical meaning of ‘Eucharist’ (or ‘Communion’ or ‘The Lord’s Supper’) as it comes to us through the Old and New Testaments, contains a vast array of images and meanings that are there to prevent us from dogmatic one-dimensionalism, but gift us with a multi-dimensionalism of blessing and enrichment:
From the OT:
… a re-enactment of a salvation event.
… the celebration of the sealing of a covenant.
… an anticipation of the messianic banquet.
From the Meals of Jesus:
… a remembering of the table fellowship of Jesus with its overtones of God’s acceptance and forgiveness.
… a sharing in the mystery of Christ’s resurrection appearances in which he ate and drank with his disciples. Continue reading
Below is a most wonderful Communion Service on the Ben Myers blog faith and theology, written by Kim Fabricius.
Service of Holy Communion
Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? You’ve come to the right place!
There is plenty of room at this table.
It’s not full until all kinds of people are here:
tall people and short people, portly people and skinny people,
people with rosy cheeks and people with wrinkly skin,
black-skinned and white people, the blond and the bald.
Come, there is room for you. We’ve got the best food –
hearty bread to fill your belly, heady wine to make you sing.
Come, join us – and live.
Let’s eat and drink!
People have been breaking bread in the name of the Holy One for centuries.
Our Jewish mothers and fathers blessed bread and wine and shared it.
Christians have gathered around tables and sat on mats
to pass the loaf of love and the cup of kindness.
And generous people have given hospitality to travellers and strangers, fellow pilgrims on the way to the kingdom.
We remember how Jesus shared a meal with his disciples in an upstairs room,
one who would deny him, another who would betray him.
There he took bread, raised it to heaven, and giving thanks to his Father,
broke it with a sound that echoed in his heart, and said:
“This is my body, broken for you. Eat it and remember.”
Then he took the cup, sweet and bitter offering, held it in both hands –
it would not pass – and giving thanks to his Abba, said:
“This is the cup of mercy that will spill all over the world
and open the hearts of many. Drink and remember.”
And they did. And we do. Let us give thanks to God.
World-maker, Barrier-breaker, Peace-bringer, Holy God:
In the beginning, You. In the now, You.
And when time ends, You. Always You!
With a handful of dust you gracefully fashioned us,
shaping us to be signs of your presence on earth.
You gave us the breath of life and placed into our hands the power to create,
into our heads the freedom to think,
and into our hearts the strength to love.
You gave us all we need to live:
food and drink for our bodies; natural wonders for our senses;
wake-time and dream-time for our minds; and for our souls –
the light of the law, the rod of the prophets, the songs of the psalmists,
and the vision of a just and joyful world.
In the fullness of time the Word became flesh – you pitched your tent among us:
learning and loving, teaching and healing, forgiving and rebuking.
You shook the pillars of power and paid the price –
the lash of the whip, the crown of thorns, the cruel cross.
Death held you briefly, but in three days you burst forth alive,
and the echo of the empty tomb rang around the world.
Risen and reigning, you call us into fellowships of faith seeking understanding,
communities of character, churches in mission.
Your Spirit continues to revive and empower us,
informing, unforming, reforming, transforming.
Now, God, we pray: infuse these gifts of the earth – bread and wine and us –
with your grace and energy.
May our eating and drinking in faith and expectation equip us to share
the good news of your peace with all people and nations,
until the coming kingdom is the kingdom come,
and all rejoice in a new heaven and a new earth.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
THE BREAKING OF BREAD
This bread, earth-grown, hand-made, and heaven-blessed,
is now for us the bread of life.
This cup, fruit of the vine, lifted in love and drunk with courage,
is now for us the wine of salvation.
THE POST-COMMUNION PRAYER
God, our creator, we thank you for the nourishment of bread and wine,
word and worship, family and friends.
Jesus, our brother, we thank you for the way you walk with us,
past comfort, through conflict, toward connection.
Spirit, our breath, we thank you that you call us in to send us out
with strength, commitment, and compassion.
Holy Three-in-One, now may our thanks go from our lips to our living,
human hymns of hope and laughter:
(Carla A. Grosch-Miller, much adapted)
“Whether Prince or pauper, commoner or King, wealthy or poor, foolish or wise, lost or found, young or old, man or woman, sinner or saint, Conservative or Labour, despairing or hopeful, healthy or unhealthy, rested or tired, faithful or unfaithful, hungry or full, grumpy or happy, doubting or sure, successful or failure:
Come to this Table.
The Table of Christ.
One Table, One Saviour, One Church, One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Do not come because you are perfect, but because you are not.
Do not come because you know everything, but because you don’t.
Do not come trying to earn God’s love, you can’t.
Do not come to impress others.
This Table of Christ is a Table for sinners.
There is room for everyone.
This Table of Christ speaks of a sacrifice for sinners.
The invitation is to all who are near and all who are far off.
The invitation is for all who believe and who want to believe.
The invitation is to share in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
The invitation is to show God’s willingness to draw you near to Himself.
A God so near: Take and Eat.
A God so near: Drink this, all of you.
As He was crushed for our sins;
So we crush the bread between our teeth.
As He was lifted up;
So we lift up the cup.
The Cross of salvation; the Blood of the New Covenant; A broken body – Jesus the Son of God slain. For all sin everywhere.
And as you eat and drink physically, so eat and drink spiritually.
This physical act, sharing the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is a profoundly spiritual act of the heart.
It doesn’t depend on feelings or mood, but on Christ who says come.
Take Mary’s advice and “Do what He says!”
It depends on a rolled away stone, an empty tomb, a Risen Saviour.
Here it is.
The gracious offer of God to forgive and redeem.
The gifts of God to the world.
The power of God for salvation.
Body, blood, cross.
Bread, wine, table.
One God, One salvation, One Cross, One Saviour, One Way, One Church.
One of the things that the Reformers wrestled back from the Catholic Church was how to do church! From complexity to simplicity, from pomposity to humility, from monotone to multi-coloured, from virtual blindness and deafness to 3D vision with surround sound. The Sacraments took centre stage in the raging debates of the 16th century from Martin Luther onwards! While the Reformation rightly challenged, and in a sense judged, the imagination-free zone of the entrenched Catholic cultures of Europe, the Bible was reigniting a God-imaged imagination that had, by-and-large been lost to the masses, kept and guarded (and forgotten) by pope and priest. Continue reading
“We are made, through Christ’s body and blood, God’s sanctuary, God’s holy temple, for the world. Just as bread and wine is transformed by the Holy Spirit to be for us the body and blood of Christ, our lives, our everyday sacrifices, are taken up into his oblation. Through that transformation the sacrifices, so often forced upon us, can become life giving because they have an end.
Our sacrifices can be joined to Christ’s sacrifice not because the Lord’s sacrifice is insufficient, but because the sacrifice of the cross is complete, lacking nothing, sufficient for our salvation and the salvation of the world. The Eucharist (or Communion, or Breaking of Bread) is the self-offering of Christ. Time and time again we are given the good gift to participate in this, the Father’s sacrifice of the Son, that all might know that here sacrifice has come to an end, because the cross is the end of sacrifice.
So [next time you eat the bread and drink the wine] remember the painful sacrifice of the Son, a sacrifice in which we are made participants, and rejoice and be glad.”
Stanley Hauerwas, A Cross Shattered Church, 72