Remember a few years ago how we were encouraged to get the ‘Abbey habit’? Most of us have the ‘church habit’. It brings us hear each week. It’s not something we often think about. Most of us come out of habit. We always done it; it’s part of the pattern of our lives. Coming to church through habit is no bad thing. Older religious writing often talked about ‘habit’. Christian people were encouraged to get into the habit of saying their prayers. They were admonished to root out habits of sin.
That said the problem with habit is that it becomes just that. We forget why we do things. They lose their meaning becoming dead and lifeless. If we want a living faith that commends itself to others then we need to get beyond habit to the deeper meaning.
I like the collects and prayers of the liturgy. Yes, we often say them by habit and yet they become part of us too. Often they take the form of a mini sermon or meditation. If we ask ‘why are we here’ then today’s post communion gives us the answer.
- We praise and thank you, O Christ for this sacred feast. To give praise and thanks to Christ is to be taken out of ourselves and our petty concerns. It is the opposite of sin, that word that always has I in it! The Eucharist is a sacred feast, something ordinary made holy by Christ. It means thanksgiving; we praise Christ for his gift.
- Here we receive you. The prayer goes on to explore the meaning of the feast. Here we receive Christ in his very person, in the scriptures, through one another & under the forms of bread and wine.
- Here the memory of your passion is renewed. Jesus told us to do this in memory of him the night before he died on the cross. In the Eucharist the memory of his passion is renewed, re-enacted, and made real in the present. Thereby we are made new, we become a new creation. The Eucharist has within the seeds of our renewal. We become Christ like.
- Here our minds are filled with grace. Grace is all about God’s gift to us. In the Eucharist he gives of himself in Christ. When God gives he doesn’t just give us enough he gives us more, full measure running over. He gives us more love, more forgiveness, more mercy so that we may be more loving and forgiving ourselves. Grace is the means by which we are enabled to live the Christian life. We can’t do it by our own efforts.
- Here a pledge of future glory is given. We may come at 9.30am each Sunday but there is always timelessness about each Eucharist. The past bears on the present. The present gives way to the future. The Eucharist is both of time and eternity. In the Eucharist we enter into the already and not yet of the kingdom.
- When we shall feast at that table where you reign with all your saints forever. Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait for the birthday tea to begin? You had to have a taste so you stole a cake as a foretaste. So is the Eucharist, a foretaste of the heavenly feast with Christ our King and his saints. I heard it said the other day that memory is also about imagination, not just remembering what happened. In the Eucharist we remembered how Jesus died. That memory becomes the basis of our imagining. We can imagine the future and eternal feast. In the Eucharist it becomes real.
It is good for us to have the habit of church going but Christ calls us beyond habit. It is good to spend time reflecting on how this is so. Before or after we receive communion we can make that prayer our own.
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