Eucharistic Heart of Jesus 1

EucharistCup.jpgMany participate in eucharist weekly. This series is for those — so we will post it early each Sunday AM — and it is for those who wish their local church had weekly communion and it is also for those who want to ponder weekly the great mysteries of the redemption we give thanks for, we memorialize, and we bless. To aid in this series, I will be looking at Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer’s new book, The Mystery of Faith: Meditations on the Eucharist

. He’s a recently deceased Polish Catholic priest whose books have sold in to the hundreds of thousands worldwide. I will not always agree with Dajczer, but instead of debating his points I will focus on what we agree on — that the elements of wine and bread, the blood and body of Christ, are a shared treasure for all Christians. My focus will be providing a meditative thought for us as we approach eucharist.

“The Church speaks of the universal call of holiness, and this call means the challenge to each and everyone of us towards having an interior life. Sacramental life and interior life are deeply interdependent” (3). And “By the act of faith (which is a grace both of invitation and response) I can communicate with God who comes out to meet me in the Eucharist” (4).
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  • Vincent Murphy

    I look forward to the full series. Will you cover advice on the common situation of feeling inadequately prepared for the Eucharist?

  • Scot McKnight

    Vincent, this theme will arise … yes.

  • Espen

    I am not sure if that would be something a catholic priest would touch on, but I would be interested in some thoughts on how the eucharist could be shared as a part of the meal. My community meets in houses and always around a meal. Several times now we have started the meal with breaking bread and prayer and finished the meal with sharing the cup of wine (passing it around as I remember we did when I celebrated passover with some jewish friends). My experience is that it centers the conversations on Jesus and it is a really good experience. (For the practical part, I live in continental Europe and wine is a normal part of the meal in any case).

  • Thank you for the post. I am looking forward to seeing the whole series. I use to be part of a church that had weekly communion, and there is just something special about receiving the elements on a weekly basis with other believers.

  • Terry

    Thanks for this series. As a pastor of a protestant congregation that has moved from monthly, then to weekly, and now to daily opportunities at the Table in our Fellowship, I am certain this will be a rich opportunity for us all.

  • David Grant

    Thanks Scott, I’m looking forward to this.

  • David B. Johnson

    I would love to hear about how the transition was for your protestant congregation. I pastor a protestant evangelical church and I myself have a very high, but realistic view of the eucharist. We went from quarterly to monthly to weekly. After the final transition we experienced some push-back and moved back to a monthly participation, but we offer an early communion-only service on Sundays it is not being offered in the main worship gathering. How did you navigate the transition. Was their resistance? How were people educated about the transition?
    Are you experiencing a transition in your personal understanding of the sacraments? Quite a bit of attention devoted to them lately.

  • Scot McKnight

    David B. Johnson,
    I can’t say that I am in a personal transition about this, the only transition being an opportunity to talk about it on the blog. I find these sorts of topics difficult to discuss on the blog. I’ve tried baptism a bit and got nowhere.
    My own views haven’t shifted since I wrote Embracing Grace, and I’m not sure when I wrote it there was much shift going on. I’m unhappy with the RC/Prot division of “real presence” or “real absence [no one admits this of course]”, and prefer other perceptions of “is” (in “this is my body/blood”). I’m unconvinced we know how it works so that at the epiclesis the transformation or transmutation occurs. I’m keen on this being both an act of God’s grace and an act of faith; and the embodiedness matters deeply to me.

  • At our church we offer it weekly along with the monthly practice. At first I did it just because I thought it was good to do though I was not that convinced of the good in doing it weekly. But now I want to participate in it every week, and my appreciation for it is growing. I really do want to learn on this. Very interested on the divide between Catholics and Protestants and a solution, and your words in your comment on that here. I take it that Jesus is present through the bread and wine by the Spirit. That somehow we are in participation with him when we partake, as well as in participation with each other. I look forward to learning more.

  • JoanieD

    I am looking forward to this series too, Scot. Thanks!
    I read Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth and found it very enlightening on the Eucharist. It is also interesting to read the early Church Fathers comments about the Eucharist.
    (I can’t remember if HTML coding works here, so if you see some coding above, sorry!)

  • Terry

    David, we too are a protestant evangelical congregation (though, I don’t normally refer to us in that way. 🙂 Our transition was fairly uneventful. I grew up in a Quaker congregation where the Eucharist was only spiritualized. We never physically took in the elements, etc. When I first broke bread during an evangelical Lutheran service in college it made a huge impact. It was something that the folks were aware of when I first came here 13-years ago.
    Our communion history, as a congregation, was pretty ritualistic and empty — though we didn’t want for it to be that way. I have spent much time over the years teaching from the Scriptures relating to communion. It was not a one-time mention, but a reoccuring theme. Even to this day I likely preach/teach on communion 3-6 times a year, in one way or another.
    We then began to adjust our practice by adding communion to a worship service held twice a month, and our home fellowships which met twice a month, all on Sunday nights. Because it was out of the ritualistic norm, it ignited a bit of fire. Good fire. A couple of years later we added an early Wednesday morning communion service. Eventually, morning communion and prayer became a part of every day in our congregation (many days the service is not led, but rather the Table is set and available, and our daily early-morning services are always come for as long as you can. So, we have many folks who drop by for 5-15 minutes for prayer and the Table.) Our Sunday night and Wednesday morning services continue as well, in addition to our main Sunday and Thursday services where communion is less frequent, but is celebrated often.
    Two things in this transition: when we chose to celebrate the Lord’s Supper regularly on Sunday nights, instead of Sunday mornings, there was some push-back. It didn’t last too long and we continued to invite people to the other gatherings. Secondly, we celebrate in a variety of ways. On your own, quiet with your family — or a family — unit, with a meal, having an entire service dedicated to the Lord’s Table, partaking in unison, serving one another, coming together to receive instead of being served in your seat, etc. I think this has been beneficial for us, has kept things fresh, and we believe it has curbed the nay-saying to some extant.
    Lastly, several years ago we began what we call the Jesus Feast. Twice a year, the entire congregation gathers for a shared meal, which is very deliberately an Agape Feast. The Eucharist is the point, our shared fellowship a joyous celebration, and a literal feast of food and Spirit for stomach and soul.

  • Scot,
    Will this series of posts discuss an open versus a closed table, i.e., as in Jesus’ meal-time habits, he welcomed sinners and ate with them. Is the Lord’s Table (Eucharist) open to anyone or are there “fences” to keep some people away? If the Lord’s table is a memorial of the cross work of Christ, is the cross only for some people or for all?