So how many of you have ever heard of the Feast of Corpus Christi? Okay that is what I thought. This past Thursday or in our case today, the Church celebrates Corpus Christi which is celebrating the institution of the Eucharist, the Great Thanksgiving that we celebrate together every week. Often this observance is wrapped in Maundy Thursday which again is another appropriate day to highlight the institution of the Eucharist. However with everything else happening on Maundy Thursday the significance can easily be lost.
The Eucharist is our central focus during the liturgy. All the other elements of the liturgy, the readings, prayers, music, sermon etc. serve as conversation around this central point. We see this each week. The altar takes precedence in the church and it is there that the prayers for the Eucharist are prayed. We come from our pews to the altar to receive the bread and wine that symbolize the body and blood of Christ. We are Blessed and sent from the altar back into the world. The Eucharist is normally sung and we ring bells during the Eucharistic prayer. The music and hymns around the Offertory and Communion serve to enhance this part of the service. All these elements in their own way serve to create the Eucharist being the climax of the liturgy.
We take common, ordinary, everyday elements of bread and wine to help point us to the Divine and Christ. Why all this fuss, pomp and ceremony you may ask? We go to these lengths because the last time our Lord gathered with his disciples he asked that “we do this [this meal together] in remembrance of [him]”. In this way the gathered community remembers Jesus. We have remembered Jesus, his life and ministry to the World down through the ages ever since.
This Eucharistic meal, this Great Thanksgiving, points us to something more than a trip down memory lane. In this meal we are fed and nourished to carry out our ministry in the world. In this meal we become an icon to the world of the Kingdom of God right here in this time and place on Earth. Think about it, people gather together for the Eucharist who normally wouldn’t gather together under alternative circumstances around a common table and share the same bread and wine. People from different cultures, races, beliefs, understandings and different life experiences gather together drawn together for a common purpose. This action alone is a form of reconciliation where we gather regardless of our disagreements and become unified in the Body of Christ. This is perhaps something we need to remember as we begin discerning the future of certain trees on the property.
The Eucharist symbolizes something much deeper and significant than what first meets the eye. In this Holy Meal we do something that is quite remarkable and counter cultural to everything we have been taught. By gathering in the way we do, we proclaim a different message to the one of fear, division and walls that apparently need to be built south of the border. We become a vision of people drawn together as one body and people braking down barriers of division and separation. We are a people reconciled in Christ’s love and forgiveness through His death and resurrection. We become one body where our uniqueness and differences are seen as a gift. We become an invitation to the world to join us and receive this gift and blessing that means the world to us. If all this is not a vision of the Kingdom of God, then I really don’t know what is.
And yet there is more. Not only are we fed and nourished we are sent into the world to feed others. This is a gift that is not reserved for us, or the chosen few, but rather is a life giving force that is so desperately needed in the world. We do this, in remembrance of Him. We do this so that others may come to know Jesus.