Church Practices – Eucharist

Other Practices

The last week of every month at theStory we are discussing the practices we do together as a community. We are trying to give some substance to why we do the things we do. We recognize that the practices we partake in a formative and shape us into the body of Christ. So how and why we do things is important for us because they shape what we love and desire.

EUCHARIST – Spiritual Food of Thanksgiving

The Practice

1. Every week our Sunday morning gatherings are centered around the central practice of the church called the Eucharist with bread and wine.

2. After the liturgical reading everyone of all ages is welcome to come and partake. We generally take by intinction (dipping the bread into the wine).

3. There will always be juice available for anyone that wishes instead of wine. We encourage children to participate but the alternative of having a blessing prayed over them is also available.

4. The Apostle Paul says “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Tabled
We acknowledge God’s hospitality inviting us to His table and flowing from that invitation our own vocation of hospitality is strengthened as we allow this practice to form us into vessels of hospitality at our own tables.

The Theology Behind the Practice

As we consume Jesus through his Word, and his body and blood through the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, he consumes us. And as Jesus consumes us, he graces us with a nobler vision: to remove disunity from his body the church, including race and class divisions.
– Paul Louis Metzger

First, we break bread and drink wine together, telling the story of Jesus and his death, because Jesus knew that this set of actions would explain the meaning of his death in a way that nothing else-no theories, no clever ideas-could ever do. After all, when Jesus died for our sins it wasn’t so he could fill our minds with true ideas, however important they may be, but so he could do something, namely, rescue us from evil and death.

Second, this action, like the symbolic actions performed by the ancient prophets, becomes one of the points at which heaven and earth coincide. Paul says that “as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). He doesn’t mean that it’s a good opportunity for a sermon. Like a handshake or a kiss, doing it says it.

Third, when we break the bread and drink the wine, we find ourselves joining the disciples in the Upper Room. We are united with Jesus himself as he prays in Gethsemane and stands before Caiaphas and Pilate. We become one with him as he hangs on the cross and rises from the tomb. Past and present come together. Events from long ago are fused with the meal we are sharing here and now. But it isn’t only the past that comes forward into the present. If the bread-breaking is one of the key moments when the thin partition between heaven and earth becomes transparent, it is also one of the key moments when God’s future comes rushing into the present. Like the children of Israel still in the wilderness, tasting food which the spies had brought back from their secret trip to the Promised Land, in the bread-breaking we are tasting God’s new creation-the new creation whose prototype and origin is Jesus himself.
– N.T. Wright

Bread and wine manifest the resurrection, the new beginning that God has established for creatures and creation. It is to be seen in the church, the body of Christ, the community called to be the new humanity. This new community of God’s people on earth witness to the overthrow of evil in their worship and in their lives. They live into the future of the new heavens and new earth in full conviction that the bread and wine, which foreshadow the coming of Christ, evoke the prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We become what we eat-living witnesses to Christ who lives in us.
– Robert E. Webber.

Our Eucharist “maintains the social shape of salvation”. When sharing common meals, we are enacting the feast of nations that is promised in the scriptures.
– Chad Brooks

The church, as body of Christ, is called to be an alternative to the atomization of society promoted by individualism, the market, and the state. As an alternative social body, the church realizes the eucharistic imperative to be what we receive, to become the body of Christ and allow others to feed on us.
– William Cavanaugh

Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger of our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for Him. To be sure, man is not the only hungry being. All that exists lives by “eating.” The whole creation depends on food. But the unique position of man in the universe is that he alone is to bless God for the food and the life he receives from Him. He alone is to respond to God’s blessing with his blessing.
– Fr. Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

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