-Joshua M. Casey
Perhaps the most enduring and beautiful term for this Common Meal is Eucharist. Transliterated Greek, it simply means “thanksgiving.” It is a recognition that this Meal above all else is an act of thanks for God’s great Gift of Life Himself. An enacted word, a physical “thank you;” it’s word given flesh and dwelling in our midst, even to the depths of our physical bodies. In this act, we receive the Gift and return it and ourselves and the world back to God. This is, after all, what sets us apart from every other creature in the world–our ability to give thanks; to not simply eat food, but recognize the Source from which it comes. This bread is not merely converted into calories allowing our bodies to continue functioning, but is also transformed into a participation in Life as it was meant to be: communion with God and participation in His economy of abundance. Herein lies our “original” sin, or that which we always do: not participation in the world’s delights, but participation for the delight alone, without regard for the One who provided it.
Too long have we lived in the world’s economy of scarcity, fearing there will not be enough; that we must take rather than receive. Rather than holding open hands, ready for the gift of Life to be placed in our palms, we reach and grasp, pushing down others who are also reaching and grasping, all striving to take that which would be freely offered if we would cease the taking.
Too long have we seen with the eyes of the Israelites in the wilderness, blinded to God’s constant provision, seeing only the bare rock, ignoring it’s hidden water (Exod. 17).
Too long have we hearkened to tales of bloodthirsty giants, ignoring the cluster of ripened grapes before our eyes (Num. 13). Yet it is the Christ who calls us to open our eyes and unstop our ears, to perceive the hidden abundance in His Body and Blood–the victory of Life within His death. He calls us to receive this “ordinary” world as though it were more, because it is.
For the world to come, that it might be revealed as the banquet table of Christ, we give thanks.
For the world as it is, when we catch it unawares, shimmering golden and charged with the grandeur of God, we give thanks.
It is this this transfiguration of the world for which we long, for which we give thanks in faith, and for which we take responsibility to bring about; offering ourselves and the world back to God as a living sacrifice, that all creation might be as Moses’ burning bush: utterly pervaded by the Divine Glory, transfigured and yet not consumed.
About The Author
Joshua M. Casey worked as a campus pastor for eight years and is passionate about connecting the church of today to the practices of our past. He lives in Bloomington, IN with his family and writes regularly at joshuamcasey.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter @thejmcasey and Facebook.com/jmcasey7.