Rowan Williams on Eucharist

EucharistCupTo be a Christian, Rowan Williams says, “means to live as people who know they are always guests — that have been welcomed and that they are wanted” (Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer). Or, “In Holy Communion, Jesus Christ tells us that he wants our company” (41).

“Jesus created fellowship wherever he went” and he was known for “indiscriminate generosity” (42). And Zacchaeus shows that Jesus draws out hospitality in others, too. At Eucharist we are welcomed by Jesus and at the same time we welcome Jesus into our very selves.

So he asks: “Who are the real people of God now? The ones who accept Jesus’ invitation” (44).

After the resurrection this same ministry of Jesus continues. The meals continue. The fellowship continues. The risen Christ continues that same work of hospitality. “Holy Communion makes no sense at all if you do not believe in the resurrection” (45).

Jesus’ hospitality means we become hospitable to others, too. We invite others to the table.

At the table Jesus made himself a sign of a new order of reality shaped by cross and resurrection. At Eucharist we encounter the giving God. This is why we call it eucharistia, thanksgiving. We see a whole new materiality at work in the world, where God is giving and at work in materiality. He sees an ecology theology in Eucharist. We see one another in Eucharist, too: the other is wanted by God and wanted to draw near the same table.

The table, too, sends out a message of sin and repentance. The betrayers and sinners are invited to the table through repentance. The table is not a reward for good behavior but a place for sinners to find forgiveness and grace. “We take Holy Communion not because we are doing well, but because we are doing badly” (53).

At Eucharist we are led to the Holy Spirit of life, who brings life from death. Here we call God Father through the Spirit. Here the Spirit transforms in new creation.

The Eucharist “is the beginning of the end of the world” (57). At Eucharist we se the world as God wants it to be.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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