Thursday, January 14, 2010

ways into small missional community [12] eucharist

here's the latest of my pieces on small missional community for CMS - reflecting on the place of the Eucharist:
Stillness for reflection, bread and wine shared, sacred words spoken. Jesus the Christ left us a practise that has continually shaped the huge variety of communities that have sprung up seeking to follow him and his way - what we might know as the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, Eucharist, or the Mass.

For many this has become the central act of Christian community, a weekly or even daily pivot point for all our activity and prayer, sensing that this is the time and place where we may be most open to God and to each other, and where we are nourished by Christ’s presence in a particular and mysterious way. For others it is a less regular activity, but important nevertheless, a deep remembering of the Jesus who died for the world and for each person. Wherever you find yourself in relation to the Eucharist I guess that you’ll probably agree that it is a vital ingredient in the life of a Christ-following community.

The question that we may well come across in the context of a small missional community is how we ‘do’ the eucharist? The issue soon arises for those coming from traditions where the priest, presbyter or ordained minister takes the presiding role in the eucharist. What does a small community do if it has no priest or ordained minister?

It seems important to me that we respect the tradition and guidelines of our particular setting and denomination. We are in a long line of people and communities who have walked this path before, and their learning and our place of belonging with them matters. So if for example that context calls for a priest to preside at eucharist, I suggest that we need to look for such a person[s], trusting that in God’s good care a priest will be found who will empathize with, relate to, and perhaps even belong to, the community.

There can also be a place in the life of a community for a simple meal where stories of Jesus are told, food and drink shared and prayers offered. It wouldn’t be described as Eucharist, but my experience is that such a meal can be a profound experience of human life and God’s presence, nurture and thanksgiving.

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