Sunday, June 05, 2011

holy conferencing and holy communion

Holy Conferencing is rooted in Holy Communion. As a connectional people we struggle with the implications of our union with each another, and our divisions. We pray, each time we share the meal, that the Spirit would make us

one with Christ,
one with each other,
and one in ministry to all the world.

To be one with Christ is to be lifted up, with him. And so we “lift up our hearts”. Holy Communion draws us closer to God, through the mediating presence of Jesus Christ.

But Holy Communion also draws us closer to one another. In our congregation I ask at the conclusion of each service of Holy Communion that we join hands after receiving. There are vertical and horizontal dimensions of the meal. We are reminded of the One from whom all blessings flow, and the ones with whom we share these blessings. And so the meal is God’s way of breaking down the barriers and divisions that separate us from the Lord and each other, and the means of fulfilling the prayer of Jesus that we be one (John 17).

And yet, like the loaves and fish in the basket, the meal nourishes those beyond us: Make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world. It is an echo of the most basic and common of prayers: bless this food to our bodies and us in thy service.

Can we pray, with boldness and confidence?

By your spirit make us one…

In a polarized and fragmented world, the church of Jesus Christ can be a sign of God’s unity, peace and wholeness. In a polarized and fragmented church, the meal can be a sign of our life together. It is true that we are divided…

by our income levels and personal experiences,
by our aesthetic tastes and political convictions,
by gender and ethnicity,
by geography and age.

We come to Holy Communion and Holy Conferencing divided perhaps by harm we have done to others and by the awareness of those who have sinned against us.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that we are his body, indeed that we are one body. Holy Communion brings us closer to God and to one another. The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

Now in Jesus Christ you who were once far off
Have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace;
In his flesh he has made both groups
(Jew or Gentile, but in our own time name any two groups that come to mind)
He has made both groups
Into one and broken down the dividing wall of hostility between us.

That he might create in himself one new humanity
In place of the two,
Thus making peace,
And might reconcile both groups to God
In one body through the cross.
(2. 13-16)

Let us pray:

You are a God of miracles.

It is a holy mystery that you transform ordinary bread into the body of Jesus Christ,
And everyday wine into his very life poured out for us.

And so we are bold to ask for yet another miracle:

Make us one with Christ
one with each other,
and one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory
and we feast at his heavenly banquet.



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