I was reminded of this post from 2008 and Mark Galli's book Beyond Smells and Bells the other day. I remember liking that book, and it's interesting that I/we are now part of a church body who participates in weekly communion, and with real wine and bread ("real" being an interesting term, given the nature here).
I had actually served as a pastor for many years before communion had any significance to me at all. I know, that seems weird. It probably is weird. However, it came to be quite meaningful to me. I think the change might have come when I started seeing the act of communion as a means of grace. I remember reading in one of Brian McLaren's books about how he offered communion to people who did not believe - perhaps as a way of opening themselves to God. That really struck me, and I started doing it in our church (allowing non-believers to participate). That seems so odd to me now - the thought that *I* would allow or deny someone to participate - but I really do think that was when my mind/heart started to see it differently.
Anyway, I am glad to be part of a group who makes no fuss about that. Why would we want to keep someone from experiencing Christ? That's sort of rhetorical, but not entirely. It reminds me of something Andrew Jones shared on Facebook yesterday upon hearing of former AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young's passing. He noted that a friend of his had actually become a Christian while working as a member of the road crew for AC/DC's 'Highway to Hell' tour. How splendidly ironic is that!?
So, here is the aforementioned post from 2008:
On pp. 51-52 of Mark Galli's Beyond Smells and Bells he first quotes Benedictine writer Jerry Driscoll:
The word 'mystery' preserves the tension between the concrete and the divine. Something is definitely present, but what is present exceeds and overflows the limits of the concrete, even if it is present only by means of it. This is mysterious, in a way unique to Christian understanding.
Yep, I agree. Just because all we see are bread and juice (in our case), for instance, doesn't mean that is all that's there.
Later on p. 52 Galli says...
A minister says words and performs actions, but at a deeper level, it is Christ who is presiding. We share in bread and wine, but the reality is that we are taking Christ into us. It looks like this is all occurring in time and space, when in fact the boundaries of time and space are being shattered, when for a few moments "heaven and earth are full of [God's] glory."
When all is said and done, though it may look like we've done nothing more than re-enact a routine religious meal, in fact, as the concluding prayer notes, something terribly significant has occurred: "You have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the sacrament of his body and blood."