Posted by: goodgoat | 17 March, 2008

On Communion

Goodgoat hasn’t posted for a while – I decided to only post when it felt like I had something interesting or useful to say. Well…there may have been one or two times when something has occurred to me and then slipped my mind, but today, today was different.

Goodgoat is in training to be a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis. Franciscans try to make Holy Communion a central part of their lives and to reflect on it. I was doing that this morning at a morning service and something clicked – you know when you’ve been thinking about one thing and then that one thing somehow combines with something else?

Well, in the week I had been thinking a lot about the Kingdom (the Kingdom of God rather than the Kingdom of the world) metaphor of yeast (leaven) – see the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 13 verse 33: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” What effect does yeast have on flour? It permeates it and makes it rise. It transforms the other ingredients into a lovely loaf of bread.

Well, nothing new there, this is something that people have heard and thought about for some time. BUT what about in the context of Communion??? The bread there is UNleavened – WITHOUT yeast…hmm, why is that, if the Kingdom of God is yeast/leaven? This got me thinking more. What is wine other than grape juice that has been transformed by the action of yeast? And in the Bible, wine is seen as something that gladdens people’s hearts but also something which is representing blood. Bare with me here – because its important to understand this further. I heard the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd NT (Tom) Wright on the radio this week – and he was saying that Jesus’s resurrected body was no longer driven by the flesh – but of the Spirit – a Spirit-driven body. What a great idea – and the essence of Jesus, his life, his Blood is what was spilled for us. Hmm, so, the wine in Communion is that which the Spirit has already transformed.

Now…the bread is still to be transformed, and WE are called to be the crucible of transformation for God – what a wonderful idea – that we take Jesus’ body, indeed we are Jesus’ body (in the service of Holy Communion at the sharing of the Peace of Jesus the Priest says “We are the body of Christ…”) We receive the unleavened bread, to remind us that we are unleavened and then to allow the Kingdom, the already tranformed wine, the Spirit of God/Jesus to work in us, to transform us, so we can then go on to transform the world. 

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Responses

  1. “Hmm, so, the wine in Communion is that which the Spirit has already transformed.”

    YES – absolutely! To me the idea of epiklesis is right at the heart of the Mass – it is by the Spirit that bread and wine are for us his body and blood. The mide-blowing parallel is, of course, that that (and Mary’s obedience!) was how the Incarnation came about in the first place…

  2. Thankyou so much for this beautiful insight. I understand the thinking process that finally draws thoughts together and serves to illumine but at times it slips away not quite formed. Here, all the ingredients have blended, bubbled, transformed (perhaps through the heat of an oven) and then produced a spiritual delicacy.

  3. Thank you – I never know whether what I’ve written is going to mean something to someone!


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