What does the sacrifice, or Communion, mean to you? I’m sure you’ve participated in communion several times and in several ways. For some, it may be so familiar that it’s lost meaning. Do you know why you take Communion? What if there is some greater meaning to communion that we’ve overlooked because it’s become meaningless ritual? Perhaps Communion, the Eucharist, the sacrifice, or whatever you are accustomed to calling it, is more than ritual? Perhaps it is a prayer to be lived by the Church? Robert Benson seems to think so.
In this chapter, Benson reflects on the sacrifice and attempts to answer the above questions. By sharing the various ways he’s experienced Communion Benson draws the conclusion that it is a prayer and not just a ritual. “The prayer of the Eucharist is the prayer that reminds us that if we are to be the body of Christ, then we are to suffer the fate to Christ – we are to be broken that we might be shared.”(pg.40). Rather than offering ourselves in prayer, we are to offer ourselves as prayer if we are to enter the powerful mystery of Communion. For in the same manner that Jesus lived his life, we are to follow in his footsteps and be like the bread and wine: taken, blessed, broken and shared.
We are comfortable with most of the Communion prayer; to be taken (chosen), blessed and shared is something most of us are willing to do. Everyone wants to be used by God and share in the joy of blessing, “…that is where the glory would seem to be.”(pg. 41). However, it’s the broken part that we have trouble with. We live in a world of comfort and strength and progress and power and it’s a rare occasion to embrace brokenness, or to pray for it. Benson suggests that we are not to be taken, blessed and shared, but taken, blessed and broken. He quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer writing from prison: “It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the suffering of God in the secular life.” The hook for us is that if we are to be shared, we must be broken.
“To be broken is to begin to pray the prayer of the Eucharist…to be broken is to begin to live the reality of the body and blood.”(pg.49)
What is Communion for you? Is it an invitation into the great story of how God is healing all things (including you) through brokenness? At any point in our lives, we are somewhere within the prayer of taken, blessed, broken and shared. To avoid suffering eventually leads to the most suffering. Have we sat in confession long enough to realize our brokenness, to embrace it in order to be truly shared?