Wednesday, June 03, 2009


I love words, and I love taking language apart to figure out what words mean and where they came from. One does not have to be in my presence long to bump into that quirky aspect of my personality. One of the words of our faith and practice that I have grown to love more deeply in recent months is “Eucharist.” It’s a more liturgical term for what we Baptists call “Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper.” Broken down to its Greek roots, charis means gift, and the prefix eu means good; so many scholars describe the Eucharist as God’s good gift to us. In the Gospels, we read how Jesus told His disciples that his body and blood were broken and poured out for the salvation of the world. That has implications for us, the church, as well.

Rob Bell, in Jesus Wants to Save Christians, interprets it this way:

God gives the world life through the breaking of Christ’s body and the pouring out of Christ’s blood. And God continues to give the world life through the body of Christ – who Paul tells his friends at Corinth is them.

They are his body. The body of Christ.

The church is a living Eucharist, allowing her body to be broken and her blood to be poured out for the healing of the world.

• • •

A church is not a center for religious goods and services, where people pay a fee and receive a product in return. A church is not an organization that surveys its demographic to find out what the market is demanding at this particular moment and then adjusts its strategy to meet that consumer niche.

The way of Jesus is the path of descent. It’s about our death. It’s our willingness to join the world in its suffering, it’s our participation in the new humanity, it’s our weakness calling out to others in their weakness.

To turn that into a product blasphemes the Eucharist.

In 2 Corinthians 1 Paul writes: “He comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others … So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation. For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you.” (NLT) Archbishop William Temple put it this way: “A church is an organization that exists for the benefit of nonmembers.” So the question is not whether we’re doing each of our very different worship services in such a way as to please the preferences of certain people. The question is “How is worship moving us to be God’s good gift … Eucharist … to those around us?”

That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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