I finally finished reading Being as Communion by John Zizioulas yesterday. It has taken me forever because I’ve been attempting a close reading & I kept getting distracted. It’s a pretty amazing book; one which is often referred to as one of the most important Christian theology books of the last half century.
I read something in Zizioulas yesterday which blew me away. He describes what he calls the “double movement” of the church.
The baptismal movement:
“which renders the church a community existentially ‘dead to the world’ and hence separated from it,” on one hand.
The Eucharistic movement:
“which relates the world to God by ‘referring’ it to God…an by bringing to it the blessings of God’s life and the taste of the Kingdom to come.”
I’ve never thought of the two sacraments in quite that way before. Baptism leaves us dead to the world and we re-enter the world through the body of Christ, through the Eucharist and through Eucharistic community.
I had a discussion with friends last night and one of the things we talked about was the nature of baptism in relation to our role as citizens of the United States. I think Zizioulas seems to point out that our baptism implies a renunciation of the primacy of all other associations over and against that primary association as the covenant people of God. Not that we renounce our citizenship in this country when we are baptized, but we become dead to its primacy at that point. Then we re-enter our state citizenship through the Eucharist, or more precisely, within Eucharistic community where we decide together as a people what covenant faithfulness looks like in our current day and time as citiziens of the United States. We bring our state citizenship to God together as a community and our citizenship is relativized by the primacy of God’s covenant. The place where this happens in the Eucharist. This blows me away.