FAITH IN FOCUS: ACTION REPLAY
Think what it was that Jesus did in the sight of the 5,000. He took the bread (and fish). He said a blessing of thanks to God. He broke the bread. And he gave it to the disciples to hand it out.
Ring any bells? Of course it does. Those four actions, (taking, blessing, breaking and giving) are exactly what Jesus did at the Last Supper. After the resurrection the apostles continued to repeat these actions when they gathered together to remember their Lord. And right down to today they are the same actions that Christians perform when they celebrate the Eucharist.
We take the bread and wine. Not only physically presenting it and preparing it on the altar, but also recalling that these elements were given to us first by God and now we refashion them and set them before God.
In a prayer of thanksgiving we then bless God for creating and redeeming us in Christ, and we ask God’s blessing upon the bread and wine that by the power of the Holy Spirit it may become for us the body and blood of Christ.
We break the bread that is to be shared in communion. Communion is not first and foremost just about me and God, about my host or wafer. St Paul tells us that the bread is made from grain scattered on the hillside, and that we share in the one loaf and one cup in order to become one body in Christ.
Finally, the priest and other ministers give the body and blood to us in communion. Because we share a unity and peace with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, we move forward together to eat and drink the food of life, to share communion with God and each other.
These four actions, take-bless-break-give, are the key to understanding what Christians do when they celebrate the Eucharist. Our “Amen” when we receive communion is a sign of our readiness as a community to actually become what we eat: the Body of Christ, the Church.