I vividly remember the day when the significance of the Eucharist struck me in a new way. It was the day after 9/11 and my family had joined with the Wycliffe College community in Toronto for the regular midweek service. I don’t remember very much about the service, but what I do remember was partaking of the Eucharist after the sermon. I remember that due to the events of the previous day I felt as if much of the world had turned lopsided. That many things no longer made sense, that any footing I thought I had was gone. But going up to the table, kneeling, and partaking in bread and wine returned this footing. I remember thinking. This still is. This hasn’t changed. I will still cling to the hope of Christ, to the belief in his death and resurrection and his work in the world. Everything else may have shattered, but this remains. I left the service still grieving, still confused by this new normal, but with a solidness returned, a reassurance that my foundation was intact.
The Eucharist has become a kind of anchor for me—a reaffirmation of what my faith ‘boils down to’. More recently though I have been realizing that in taking part in this sacred ritual I am doing more than just reaffirming my belief in God’s work through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; I am also expressing my expectation that I am a participant in this new reality. My partaking of the bread and wine is a hopeful act. A hope very deliberately centred on Jesus and his work on the cross A hope that believes that God is still at work in the world through his church, through his holy spirit and even through me. A hope that there is a reality that I cannot see. A hope that by receiving this meal I am being given new life and am sustained as I continue on this walk. I find I need this reminder as my anchor because I don’t always feel hopeful. I often look at the world and see pain, confusion and injustice. I look at my own life and see unkindness, selfishness and inadequacies. Receiving the Eucharist is an act of faith, trusting that in doing so I am tying myself to Christ’s death and resurrection and that by accepting the new life Christ has offered this will shape how I live and look at the world.
Of course, as we approach Easter, the Eucharist takes on special significance. During this season we will celebrate more fully Christ’s work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Easter is our time to revel in this reality, to be renewed and strengthened in a unique way in our journey as Christ followers. Easter is a joyful season but all too soon we will return to normal time, to our regular routines, our everyday lives. Thankfully we will still have the Eucharist—this tactile reminder every week of these larger realities—our anchor that gives us food for our journey and regularly connects us back to these events of Easter and reaffirms our ongoing hope and faith that God continues to be at work. The gifts of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.