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July 25, 2012

I see Jesus as a man who was so God-centered in his life that people saw in him what the full potential of being human was, to glimpse what it is to be fully human. And after his death, the disciples first, and then others, experienced his living presence , which was described in the subsequently written Gospels by the term, “resurrection.” In that experience, those early disciples recognized and realized (i.e., it was real) that the love that is God was in Jesus. In addition, they experienced that this love was also in them! And that experience and realization has been repeated over and over within each succeeding generation. Moreover, now, at this moment, the love of God that was in Jesus is also within each of us – even me! As John has Jesus say, “Know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

So the Eucharist is first of all a recognition of that experience, a celebration of God in Jesus.  It is also a liturgical reenactment of Jesus’ resurrection, a worship experience that we share with Jesus’ disciples themselves from that time after Jesus death.  It was well established by the time of Paul.   But the Eucharist is also the repeated affirmation that “God is within me.” God is in my very being.   I go forward and take the bread and wine as recognition of the reality of the divine presence within me that allows me to glimpse what it is to be fully human. I am a creature of an amazing and continuing evolution, and I have all the animal instincts of that evolution, but Jesus showed us that we are more than animal instincts, that we are a part of a love that binds us all together in all of life. And we should be living together not as a pack of animals, but as God-infused, love-infused, living human beings that we are.   I think  this is what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God. And we can experience that Kingdom now.  Each time I participate in the Eucharist, therefore, I experience the affirmation of God’s presence within me, and I consecrate myself anew to live up to my potential – to reach toward being fully human every day in every way. That is why I say, “Amen,” when I take the bread, and again when I take the wine.

One of the prayers just before communion in our Methodist liturgy ends with this petition, “Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to partake of this Sacrament of thy Son, Jesus Christ, that we may walk in newness of life, grow into his likeness, and may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.”*

Loren Bullock
August 5, 2011,  revised November 19, 2017

*This “Prayer of Humble Access,” from my Methodist The Book of Worship (1964), is not heard so often any more.  It is in one of the communion rites in the current The United Methodist Hymnal (my version is 1989). Its previous version in The Methodist Hymnal of 1905 has the literal and vivid imagery of earlier times:  “Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may live and grow thereby; and that, being washed through his most precious blood, we may ever more dwell in him, and he in us.”   This, of course, comes from the Anglican  Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1545.

From → Beliefs

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