I started what might have been a long post on Eucharist this morning. Then I accidentally hit some combination of keys that resulted in my opening sentence being posted as a blog entry. I read it, decided I liked it, and let it stand.
I suppose for me it all began about ten years ago with Monika Hellwig's book, Eucharist and the Hunger of the World. It started me thinking about the connections between people via the chain of production of our food. Now thanks to various documentaries every high school student knows that what McDonald's puts on its menu has enormous sociological implications, everything from what varieties of potatoes will be abundantly available to what various groups will eat to the amount of refuse generated. But when I read Ms. Hellwig these things made up a real revelation to me. Food and how we use it (more complicated than it seems) ends up at the intersection of health, economic justice, and environmental justice, to name a smattering only.
I take communion to folks who are homebound because of health issues. Another church officer normally accompanies me. The people I see are hungry... they are hungry for community, for touch, for a sense of hope and healing. They are hungry for a church community they are not always confident they are still connected to. An Amazon reviewer says of Hellwig's writing, "For Ms. Hellwig the Eucharist is not simply a linear production of the body and blood of Jesus Christ; it is a command to go out and seek the other who is hungry." In my small, relatively short visits to bring the sacrament to those who cannot join the body at the communion table on Sunday morning, I see transformation that happens when the spirtually hungry are fed. I see it all the time. I see people go from being inert and exhausted to refreshed and renewed. I see people get color back in their graying cheeks. I see people who are grateful that they have not been forgotten, that the church is extending itself to them in this act of table fellowship.
To put it another way, here is a sentence from a recent communion service:
"As this bread is Christ’s body for us, let us be Christ’s body for the whole world."
We (by which I mean the institutional church) say these things all the time. What if we really meant them, really lived them? What if we dared to be Christ's body and blood for the whole broken, bleeding world? What if we reached out the the physically hungry as confidently as we reach out to the spiritually malnourished, knowing that Christ's body is shared in the mac and cheese as well as the bread and wine?
I think the one-sentence post was more articulate.