Ordered a book off Amazon today. "On Christian Priesthood" by Robin Ward http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christian-Priesthood-Robin-Ward/dp/0826499082 Hopefully it will arrive in a few days and I’ll blog a few reactions to the text. I have been noticing more and more about the idea of Christian Priesthood lately – especially on Twitter, and I have had that recurrent dream of seeing myself dressed up in the whole clerical fancy dress virtually nightly for the last couple of weeks, so its probably a good time to get some of it down in electronic ink.
First though I have cribbed below a few jottings I wrote on the fly back in August to a dear friend whose question was on the lines of "Holy Communion – I’m just not feeling it…"
This is what I wrote to her.
"Holy Communion (to use the Anglican phrase) is an expression of our shared life in Christ. We are the body of Jesus, gathered and scattered, and when two or three of us gather we are particularly conscious of His resurrected presence. In coming together around a table we are powerfully reminded of our shared lives, the ways we have met one another’s broken needs, ministered healing to one another, stood by each other in encouragement and sympathy, met each other’s financial needs, carried one another’s burdens etc. When we feed one another at His table we remind ourselves that Christianity is not a solo spiritual journey, but a community of those who are being saved from the powers.
The openness of the table reminds us that we are not simply helping out our friends in some holy-huddle, but expressing the new creation, to which the whole world is invited, and especially those who seem uninvited by those outside the table who puff themselves up out of all proportion. There is no place for grandeur at the table of the King of Kings! The absence of any lords and leaders reminds us that we are all children of same Father, all sharing in the one loaf. The bear hug, arm-pat or gentle smile of recognition from each other as we eat assures us that we are known and accepted for who we are, both in the community of faith and ultimately by God.
The aroma of freshly baked bread fills our imagination with the joys of the age to come, and the crumbs that scatter remind us of the bounteous provision of God to every mouse or sparrow who prays "give us this day…". The warming hit of alcohol alters our senses, alerting us to the transformation of all things, that goes on by the grace of God working its way into our whole perceptions. The armfuls of leftover wine and bread that we share in the park with the homeless remind us of the astonishing generosity of God.
It is a feast for the soul and the senses, there is so much to take in that we can hardly hope to encompass 1% of it in our meagre minds, and yet over time, as we grow in love for our King and his upside-down kingdom our imagination becomes bigger and more able to contain "the riches of his grace".
And if we don’t feel these things? Well that absence if feeling should challenge us as a community. Perhaps we are not feeling the presence of the body because there are unmet financial needs among us, with some rich and some poor? Perhaps we are not feeling the presence of the body because we have guarded our wounds around the table and shied away from the healing touch of each other? Perhaps there are secrets, perhaps there are surrendered feelings of superiority, elitism or status, perhaps there is the simple pride of solitary religion, and its comforts.
So perhaps the feelings, or lack of feeling, you describe, is the prompting of the Spirit, to press on and press in to deeper fellowship and communion around the common table. Perhaps others are feeling it too… Maybe we all need to break bread (to use language I’m more comfortable with) together."
So I think while I read Ward, I’m thinking I might go through a season (perhaps through Advent) of celebrating the Eucharist daily. Some days this would be as part of my Morning Office sine populo, and where possible concelebrating / communicating at various times and places throughout the week depending where I am and what’s going on – and taking in St Pauls or wabbey on my London days, leading up to the midnight HC which I hope to spend at the lovely St Peters once again.
Starting to think about the Eucharist
November 7, 2013 by Simon Nash