Tuesday, February 9, 2016

An aha! moment w/ the Eucharist (a blog post by Brian Zahnd)


Sticking with the theme of “aha! moments”, I’m going to post a link to Brian Zahnd’s blog post from yesterday, 2/8/16.

It’s entitled “Grain and Grape”.  Please read it.

Several of Brian’s works have been intimately connected with “aha! moments” for me.  This particular post (a version of which was posted on his blog a year or two ago) along with one or two related posts focus on the Eucharist.

I don’t wish to say much about the content of the post because it speaks for itself and certainly doesn’t need my commentary.  I would, however, like to say a few brief words about the reasons that this particular post was so impactful to me upon first reading it a year or two ago (and in subsequent readings).

I think it fair to say that “communion” does not hold the same place within the protestant or evangelical traditions as it does within some of the other more liturgical traditions.  There are significant differences but that’s not the purpose of my post.  Those differences aside, I’d like to comment on two primary ways in which this post awakened me to a new appreciation for the Eucharist.

1 - I love what Brian has to say in this post.  I love it.  The content itself speaks to the wideness and wonder of the Eucharist, but I didn’t view it as merely a new, creative, and intellectually satisfying way to think about the Eucharist.  No.  Not only did the particular content of the post impact me, but the imaginative and meditative nature itself set a pattern for further Eucharistic reflection for me.  I’m more inclined to look for those depths than I was before.  If Christ is indeed the Logos – the underlying meaning of all things – then there is infinite depth to the Eucharist.  It is primary and beautiful.

2 – In addition to engaging my mind and intellect in new ways, the Eucharist became more tangible to me.  Rather than further separating the world into sacred and secular, it fused them via the revelation of a sacramental world.  As BZ says, “The Eucharist pulls back the curtain to reveal a sacramental world.”  It isn’t a “mere idea”, or an exercise in abstract theology or a tip of the cap to a vague sense of judicial forgiveness in the pattern of penal substitutionary atonement.  It’s a mystery, but it’s become more tangible and central to me.

So I try my best to slow down when I take communion, difficult as that may be at times.  It’s not an empty religious ritual to me, or a dogmatic oddity that must be squeezed into a Sunday morning.  My doubts and frustrations haven't magically disappeared.  Far from it. I don't think the Eucharist "works" that way. But particularly in times where the staples of an evangelical worship service don’t inspire much in me, both the imaginative pondering of it’s mystery and depth and the act of open handed receiving have made the Eucharist primary to me.

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