Take, and eat

Approx. read time: 3:15 min.

It’s early in the dawn hour, my hour of Morning Prayer. The psalmist this morning is yearning for God. Panting, hungering, thirsting for God.

I gaze out the window toward the eastern horizon, and allow a space for the yearning to settle in.

I too will know this yearning deeply, my intuition tells me. 

Instinctively I sense that a day will come when I will be deprived of Eucharist.

I recall Dorothy Day, whose acts of civil disobedience landed her in jail, depriving her of the consolations of the Sacrament. Will my experience be like hers? Will my hunger come about in the cause of justice?

I think about the anticipated bone-rattling earthquake—the Big One—for which we are woefully unprepared here in western Oregon. I imagine my friends, my church peeps, trapped, scattered, or dead. No hope of gathering as church.

Or maybe a day will come when we’ll be locked down under martial law, unable to gather freely for worship, as people are in many lands today.

Little do I anticipate a global pandemic that will lock down life, for two Lenten seasons, two seasons of Easter and Pentecost, and beyond.

But here we are. 

My intuition served me well, in that early hour of dawn two years back, delivering to me two revelations into the mystery of the Great Communion.

First, in this moment in my Morning Prayer, I understand, in a flash of deep knowing, Whose flesh already is embedded, forever, in my flesh, and Whose blood flows, at all times, freely in my veins.

I think of the words of the Apostle Paul: Who—or what—can separate us from Christ? Will hardship or distress, persecution or famine, nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

How about a pandemic?

No, not even a pandemic can separate us from Christ.

The second revelation arrives more recently, on a Sunday, during my weekly deep praying of the beloved Eucharistic Prayer III.

The words of consecration themselves are embedded in my flesh.

Jesus takes the bread, raises his eyes to heaven, and says: Take this, all of you, and eat it.

Time stops.

I pause and imagine the Twelve slowly chewing the bread—including one who will slip out before the meal is finished to betray the Master. As they eat, a solemn, sacred silence fills the room.

Take this, all of you, and eat it.

Now, only now, after the Twelve have chewed and reflected on this simple act, does the Lord continue, in a hushed tone: This is my body, which is given up for you.

I also eat what I cannot comprehend. The flesh of the Lord, embedded in my flesh.

This is not a promise of future communio, but communio now. Indwelling.

Jesus offers his betrayer full inclusion in this communio, perhaps hopeful that this act of intimate and costly love will change one human heart in the grip of darkness.

When supper is ended, he takes the cup.

Take this, all of you, he says, and drink from it.

Again, silence fills the room as one and another drinks solemnly from the cup. The thick sweet wine kindles a warm glow within the room. The emptied vessel returns to the Master.

Now, and only now, does he reveal what he has longed to share: This is the cup of my blood, he says, his voice tremulous at the edge of emotion, the cup of the new and everlasting covenant.

I imagine him looking with intense and somber love, from one friend to the next. 

It will be shed for you, and for all, so that sins may be forgiven.

In this long season of pandemic I lack nothing. 

I yearn for the living God. Yet I also know Whose flesh already is embedded in my flesh, and Whose blood flows freely in my veins.

Listen to my track “Whose Blood Flows In My Veins,” on my album Free to Be Free.


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