Posts Tagged ‘mysticism’

EAT MY BODY.

How’s that grab ya?  Yeah.  I kinda get that too.  

Roman Catholicism holds to a stream of orthodoxy that maintains that a physical transformation happens to bread and to wine when used and blessed as a sacrament of worship.  Small wafers literally become the physical body of Jesus, and the wine literally becomes the blood in his veins. 

Other lines of thinking, like the Lutheran tradition, hold that a spiritual transformation happens- that somehow in the spiritual dimension of existence, the bread somehow, mystically, becomes the body and blood of Jesus.  That it’s spiritually imbued with the manifest body and blood.  

There is another, third line of thinking that has been popular for some six hundred years- that much as God instructed to take the Passover feast every year to remember the Exodus from Egypt, and God’s display of power over Pharaoh- that Jesus instituted a new kind of feast for the purposes of communal memory.  

 

 

Over the years, since the advent of my faith in Jesus, I’ve felt an odd sort of relationship with the feast of remembrance.  There’s a lingering mysticism that I felt inadequate about.  Maybe you’ve shared that experience too.  Like, you’re supposed to have some kind of visceral, spiritual experience that is just beyond what can be described.  Like there’s some kind of holy visitation that should happen every time I take part in the sacrament of communion.  

 

If I’m being honest, I’d say that is not typically my experience.  

 

You hear the story read from a liturgical device- the story of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples on the night of his betrayal, the teaching that Jesus was preparing us for his crucifixion, and how we should understand it.  That we must eat of his body, and drink of his blood to be part of this new kingdom- if we are to be reckoned as one of “his.”

 

Then you get up, shuffling through the too-thin aisles and move slowly through a que, until you arrive at a station of sorts, where you are given a small, small piece of “bread” and a small, plastic cup, filled with grape juice- “this is the body of Christ, broken for you, Sean,” and “This is the blood of Christ, poured out for the forgiveness of sins.”  Do you look them in the eye?  Do you stare at the elements?  

 

Too late- people are waiting behind you.  You grab your little piece of “bread” and your itty bitty cup.  You follow the person in front of you and shuffle your way back to your place in the hall.  And… what?  Do you pause, and reflect?  Do you toss it all back?  

It’s awkward.  Sorry, it is.  Maybe that’s the introvert in me.  Maybe it’s “sin”.  I don’t know.  But it’s always felt strange to me.  

 

But yesterday, something occurred to me. 

It occurred to me that maybe the depth and hallow of the experience isn’t really the point.  I realized that when I reach into that plate, when I pull up my little cup- I can’t help but remember.  I know that will never be “just another piece of bread.”  Everytime I put my hand in that dish, I am making a public declaration: The Gospel is true.

 

Because it’s been so deeply entrenched, by years of repetition, I will never reach into that plate wondering what I’m doing.  Whatever happens, whatever the bread looks like, tastes like, feels like- I know that I am admitting to every person in the room, and to myself, that the man named Jesus of Nazareth was everything He said he was.  Is.  Whatever.  

 

I am standing in a great throng of people, bridging across centuries, and admitting that the world needs a miracle.  

 

That’s all.  I don’t believe the bread performs a miracle.  I don’t believe that the bread somehow works it’s way through my body with glitter and wind-chime sounds and little sparkles, performing magic or something.  I believe that if nothing else happens but me remembering everything I’ve learned about Jesus: that he walked the earth, spoke with people, washed feet, healed illness, and rose from death, then it has likely done everything it was ever intended to do. 

He didn’t say that you had to do this to get to heaven.  He didn’t say that you had to do this to be saved, or healed.  He didn’t say “do this, and I’ll speak amazing, unspeakable, unsearchable truths into your heart…” He just said “Do this in remembrance of me.”  

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