Aug 3, 2020

Waiting and Fasting

This past weekend's gospel reading about Jesus feeding the 5,000 included some very tangible

echoes of the Eucharist. The same four-fold action that happens in front of the large crowd mirrors Jesus’ movements in the Upper Room. He takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to the gathered assembly. 

At a moment when many are still fasting from Communion and participating in virtual worship, the story of the feeding of the 5,000 engages a deep and soulful yearning. 

In my sermon, I shared a few things I miss about receiving the Eucharist. I've supplemented this list and offer them to you below. I'm sure you have others from your own experience and context. 

  • I miss the altar guild reverently placing the chalice and paten on the altar and veiling the vessels with care and devotion. 
  • I miss young acolytes struggling to light the tall candles, especially when they’ve recently been replaced with new ones. 
  • I miss our Verger racing around before the service making sure we have enough wine and wafers to feed everybody. 
  • I miss the unspoken action of the Eucharistic table setting during the offertory anthem.
  • I miss saying a quiet prayer as the server ritually washes my hands before the Great Thanksgiving. 
  • I miss that brief silence - just a beat - after I raise my arms in prayer and gaze out upon the congregation before the words pour forth.
  • I miss consecrating the elements at the altar, using the ancient manual acts that are both so familiar and meaningfully mysterious. 
  • I miss momentarily losing my place in the altar book and then quickly and, usually seamlessly to the naked eye, finding it again.
  • I miss the well-worn cloth strips used to mark the book, which I still never trust anyone else to set. 
  • I miss the silent choreography with and among the other clergy at the altar. 
  • I miss looking out at the congregation and seeing the familiar faces of people I care so deeply about as I elevate the silver vessels. 
  • I miss looking out at the congregation and seeing the familiar faces of people I care so deeply about as I elevate the silver vessels. 
  • I miss communicating the altar party, especially the wide-eyed look of the newest acolyte. 
  • I miss offering the sacrament first to the choir before they return to their pews to sing the communion anthem and lead the Eucharistic hymns I never get to sing, but often hum along to as I go from one side of the rail to the other. 
  • I miss offering the gifts of God for the people of God. 
  • I miss the pride our ushers take in orchestrating the orderly movement of parishioners from pew to altar rail. 
  • I miss seeing outstretched hands at the communion rail, some covered with magic markers, others covered with wrinkles, and most somewhere in between.
  • I miss the very real presence of Jesus in my own life that only comes through the reception of the Eucharist. 
  • I miss fulfillment of the deepest yearning of my soul. 

We wait. We fast. Yet Jesus abides even in the wilderness. And I take solace in that.

No comments: