Sunday, February 18, 2007

This morning I presided at the Eucharist at St M's.
Nothing unusual in that, though I'm thankful that the sense of wonder that I should be standing in that place, speaking those words shows no sign of abating, 18 months after my priesting.

But this morning had a particular feel to it, combining as it did the readings on the Transfiguration (which we will keep as a high Feast in August, too) with a heightened sense of what is happening to the Anglican Communion as, far away, the Primates continue to talk.
Before I left for church, I'd read these words (quoted on Rick's blog, which has,as so often, a wise perspective on the current dramas) from Jim Naughton, Canon for Communications at the Episcopal diocese of Washington D.C. (the words first appeared on the Associated Press site)

"Imagine if every believer, everywhere insisted on knowing the views of every other worshipper in a church on all the hot-button issues of our time before they would agree to go to Eucharist,'' Naughton said. ``When you don't attend a Eucharist because you disagree with the views of the people who are attending with you, you make it seem that the Eucharist is about you. It is not about you. It is about God.''

These words really hit home for me, on this Transfiguration Sunday, when we reflect on what it might mean for God to transfigure us, so that when people look they "See nothing, but only Jesus". As a priest and as a President, I'm always conscious of the tension between offering myself as I am, since this is all that I have to bring to the Eucharistic table, and at the same time getting myself out of the way, so that those who gather can encounter God, without any obtrusive mediation from the priest.
Today this felt even more essential.

And then I took the consecrated host and deliberately broke it, as I have to do, whenever I preside at the Eucharist.
Sometimes this feels like part of God's generous action, something that is pure joy to do, since by breaking I make the Sacrament available to all.
At others, particularly at the Midnight Mass, it feels like a violation, as I become the representative of all the human sins that wound Christ again and again.
Today I wanted to avoid the fraction altogether, but of course this was not an option.
So I broke the wafer as I knew I must- praying that this action of breaking the Body of Christ was not being mirrored in the actions of the Primates in Dar es Salam.
But the reality is that if those Archbishops have absented themselves from the Eucharist, then Communion is already broken.

We know, each one of us, that the whole Church is Christ's broken body here on earth...but perhaps we need to remember too that where there are cracks and brokenness, the light can shine through. To be part of a Church that seems in some ways bent on self-destruction is horribly painful, but perhaps in brokeness we'll ultimately be more able to get ourselves out of the way. Unable to present even a facade of unity and strength, we'll be forced to acknowledge our utter dependence on the God who welcomes us in all our frailty, and allow that same God to transform and transfigure the Church.

View mee, Lord, a worke of thine :
Shall I then lye drown'd in night?
Might thy grace in mee but shine,
I should seeme made all of light.

(Thomas Campion: First Booke of Aires)

1 comment:

sally said...

Something the minister said in that Purposeful Life video..that when people leave a service complaining they got nothing out of it, he reminds them, worship is for God, not you. We are so used to making everything about us..worship is not about us, it is about worshipping God. And yet we want it to give us something...understandable I suppoose...but wrong?