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There is special significance for this Independence Day in our house. As many of you will know, Jonathan, our beloved son turns 13 tomorrow. The rite of passage that being a teenager is not lost on any of us. That this rite of passage comes as we celebrate American Independence from Colonial Rule as a nation is an interesting coincidence.

For some 200 years we as Americans have relished our Independence and the glorious success that Democracy has been for us and for countless others across the globe. And for good reason.

Having said that, I think we can fairly make the case the complete Independence, on any level, is a myth at best. The fact of the matter is that isolationism has never worked for America as much as we’d like it to. The same holds true with children, adolescents, and adults. This is especially true with the spiritual life. It is true that God’s presence is everywhere. I cannot deny that as a basic tenet of the religious life. We all, by virtue of our kinship with Jesus have access to God in ways that our Hebrew forbearers could not imagine. It is easy, and a bit dangerous, to think that we can have the fullest experience of God possible all alone. John Donne, famous Anglican preacher and poet penned these words,

“No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

 

We have existence in God apart from others, but we cannot claim the fullness of fellowship that God desires for us all individually if we choose to make God and our relationship to God a private matter. As Christians the centrality of relationship is central to our belief. That’s why the Trinitarian understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is part of our ordering our common life. We are created for relationship.

I guess my point is (and I do have one) this: Independence is a step toward maturity, but it’s just a step and not the end to which we’ve been called. As we understand ourselves independently we are offered a great and noble choice, that is to choose interdependence. We cannot do without one another. We cannot experience God’s fullness outside of community. We cannot worship fully in our tradition without relationship. The Eucharist, by definition, is the community expressing its thanks to God for all that is.

Regardless of where you find yourselves tomorrow, I hope that in the midst of our Independence Day Celebrations we’ll remember that we depend on one another and indeed on everyone that is in ways that we can never completely understand.

Blessed 4th! May you have the courage to seek Interdependence!!!

Our Prayer Book boldly states that:

“The Holy Eucharist, the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day and other major Feasts, and Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, as set forth in this Book, are the regular services appointed for public worship in this Church.” (BCP p. 13)

This fact makes the active life of the community very important especially when we view ‘Eucharist’ by the literal meaning of the word in Greek, which is ‘thanksgiving’. Each and every week as we gather around the table and expect our Trinitarian God to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the ‘Real Presence’ of Jesus at our table we should be profoundly thankful. That thankfulness should not be limited to a ‘feeling’ of gratitude but should extend in to lives which display, in tangible ways, how thankful we are to be fed at the Communion Table.

One of the ways we have done this over the years at St. Luke’s is to gather non-perishable goods on the first Sunday of the Month to send off to Jeremiah’s Inn to help with their work with those seeking to break the grip of substance abuse. I don’t have to tell you that times are tough. I don’t have to tell you that it costs more to fill our grocery bags with our accustomed fare. I don’t have to tell you that just getting to the store is more expensive than it’s ever been. You all know all of that.

The really important question, given all of these realities, is; “What’s a Church to do about it?” I think that, among other things, we need to be more public about our support for those who feel this pressure most acutely and we need to do it publicly within the context of our regular corporate worship. A number of you have suggested over the course of the past months that we need to be more public about our monthly ingathering and have suggested that it become a weekly practice. I could not agree more and you all will be happy to see (I hope) that I’m getting around sharing your suggestion with the community.

Beginning this weekend, I invite you all to bring whatever non-perishables you have, whether it be macaroni and cheese, canned goods, dry cereal or the like. It doesn’t have to be much, but I believe it is a Holy Habit to cultivate, tend, nurture and watch blossom. Just as the flowers at the church or at our homes give us pleasure through our care and cultivation, so to does our Heavenly Father take pleasure in the gratitude that we cultivate in the giving of what we have to those who have so much less. I would also like for these offerings, whatever they may be, to be a part of the offering of our treasure and the gifts of bread and wine in the service. I conclude with this Offertory Sentence from the Book of Common Prayer (p. 376):

Through Christ let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of
praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his Name.
But do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:15, 16

Peace and Good,
The Rev. Warren Earl Hicks, Rector
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
921 Pleasant St.
Worcester, MA 01602

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