Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bread of life, body of Christ

This Corpus Christi Sunday, my mind goes back to morning prayer at Taizé, and to the communion offered to the gathered community. Consecrated bread (host wafers) were offered to Catholics in one place, and blessed bread was also made available to everyone who wanted to partake. I didn't know about the blessed bread during my first visit in 2014 because I usually ended up sitting on the side of the Church of Reconciliation where the Catholics received the consecrated hosts, which we were allowed to dip in a cup of wine.

But when I visited Taizé in October 2016, I sat on the other side of the church with my best friend, and we received the bread together (Cathy isn't Catholic, and I wanted to share communion with her). And I wasn't sorry to receive the unconsecrated bread because a young volunteer offered us a basket from which we took a chunk of bread with a piece of crisp crust, like bread will taste in heaven, every bit as delicious as God's love should be. And as Cathy and I left morning prayer for breakfast, I said, "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!" and she laughed and said, "I know! It was so DELICIOUS!"

I'm not sure how or why so many churches got away from sharing really good bread, though I expect it has something to do with concern for the crumbs being dropped on the floor and walked on. But to break our morning fast with such a delicious piece of bread shared with a smile by a young volunteer had a profound impact on my understanding of the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus probably gave his followers a special meal to show that life is meant to be delicious, and joyous, and to help us know that the people who eat his meal are meant to bring flavour and celebration to all of life, especially to those who hunger and thirst for justice, joy, peace and beauty. His gift of himself as food for the feast is meant to encourage us all to offer ourselves for the life of the world in the way he did.

The idea of the Body and Blood of Christ has always been a bit too visceral for many people, but who doesn't like to share a good loaf of bread and bottle of wine with friends? Maybe the enjoyment of eating together as God's beloved people got lost in the rules around how to distribute the meal to large groups in huge churches... and in our concern for how the meal is served we have been missing out on something simple, joyful, and absolutely delicious.

If I was consulted on how to make our liturgies more meaningful, I'd say, stop worrying about the crumbs. Christ wants us to enjoy the bread of life and each other. Pass the basket to each other with a smile, let everyone take a fresh and delicious piece to dip in some sweet and excellent wine so that they can really taste and see the goodness of God, and know that together, we are all the body of Christ in the love that we share with each other and the world.

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