Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eucharist: Gratitude, Community, Civil Disobedience- III

The Rite

Holy Week marked the end of our study of the liturgy as a community. At our celebration of Maundy Thursday this week, we used a Eucharistic liturgy I constructed from the words of I Corinthians 11 as well as a line from the Gospel of Mark. A version of the berakah prayers of Judaism over bread and wine (which Jesus, like any devout Jew, may well have spoken in communal meals) were inserted into the liturgy as well as some explanatory comments.

The liturgy began just before our usual potluck supper with the blessing, breaking and passing of the bread. And then we ate our fill. After supper we concluded with the passing of the wine.

I close this entry with the rite we used:

Maundy Thursday Eucharistic Rite

[I Cor. 11] On the night when he was handed over, Jesus took bread, and he said:

“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe who gives us bread from heaven.”

And then he broke the bread and said, “This means my body broken for you. Do this to remember me.” And he passed the bread and they ate.

[The bread is passed among the members of the community after which supper commences. After supper the following commentary is offered]

Between the blessing, breaking and sharing of the bread, everyone has their fill. No one is left hungry. By its very essence, this meal embodies the Kingdom of G-d, where the hungry are fed and the poor are blessed. And by its very essence, it rejects the kingdom of Caesar, where the poor are exploited to produce the excess of the beneficiaries of empire and where the hungry are turned away empty.

This meal is an act of civil disobedience. The Kingdom of G-d is embraced and embodied, the kingdom of Caesar is rejected and denied. And in the midst of this meal, we remember Jesus, who taught us this way of being human, and when we eat it together, he is truly present here with us.

[The rite continues with the following]

After the meal, he took the wine cup, and he said,

“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe who gives us this wine to drink.”

And he continued, “This cup means the new covenant ratified by my blood. Whenever you drink this, do it to remember me. So every time you eat and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the lord until the day when he returns.”

[Here the cup is passed among the members of the community after which the rite continues with the following.]

“So, then, my friend, when you gather to eat, wait on one another. Any of you who thinks only about his own hunger should eat at home…”

[MK 14] : And they sang a hymn and left for the Mount of Olives.

In this night of betrayal, may we keep faithful witness with Jesus, our Lord. On this eve of his crucifixion, let us go to the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus. And as we go,

May the Lord bless and keep us, may the Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us, may the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace. AMEN.

[I Corinthians taken from The Authentic Letters of Paul, A New Reading of Paul’s Rhetoric and Meaning, The Scholars’ Version (Salem, OR: Polebridge, 2010). References to the Gospels taken from The Complete Gospels, 4th ed. (Salem, OR: Polebridge, 2010). ]

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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