Paul writes – Continuing some of the themes of the last couple of days. This time Anglican Priest Malcolm Chamberlain offers some very useful thoughts on Eucharist. It’s a follow up to an earlier post he’d written (and which he references in the excerpt below). I reflected on a similar theme last year, and have done so from time-to-time, prior to that. Worth a read is Sara Miles’ book Take this Bread which is a fairly provocative book on the same theme (though more a memoir).
“…Following a conversation I had with my Bishop about what policy I practiced in admitting people to Communion who have not been baptised, let alone confirmed. I remember feeling a bit uncomfortable with the question until he assured me that he wasn't trying to catch me out! He went on to recommend a book by Timothy Gorringe called The Sign of Love and lent me the book, which I reviewed here. The gist of Gorringe's argument is that the Last Supper was, for Jesus, a continuation of the table fellowship that had so characterised his ministry, and through which he had included those often considered outsiders by the religion and culture of his day. Gorringe sets out a clear case for Jesus using table fellowship redemptively, which culminates in the Last Supper. Therefore, he suggests, Communion should be offered widely and becomes, for many, the means of connecting with God's grace and the community of faith. Rather than admission to Communion following on from baptism, Gorringe argues that the Eucharist should be offered unconditionally to all, and may itself become a significant part of a person's story leading them to a fuller identification with the community of faith…”
Mike Riddell has also written very usefully on the theme in Tui Motu – most recently here. I think one of the traps, particularly for a church within a sacramental tradition (e.g. Catholic, Anglican…) is that the focus is solely on Eucharist to the detriment of hard work of genuine community building inside and outside of the church. Mike Riddell wrote a fascinating reflection in Tui Motu a few years ago in which he reflected on his experience of living (at one point) in a commune and wondered if that kind of intentional community was even possible. Instead, from memory, he wondered if the “call” was to focus on working to build, sustain, nourish, reconcile, and heal relationships etc; to build and work for community in the contexts which we find ourselves. I think the monastic tradition also has some very interesting and useful things to say about community – imagine working out a vow of stability in a monastery with a group of other monks, none of whom you may have chosen to share your life and life-journey with…?
You can read Malcolm’s full post here. Thanks Malcolm.