The breaking of the bread. One of the Catholic commentators pointed out this week that the burial of the Pope was just like that for any other Catholic in structure. It was set in the context of the Mass-- a service of the breaking of the bread. I didn’t read or see enough of the funeral itself to know how they distributed communion to hundreds of thousands, but I suspect that most of those present expected to receive the “body of the Lord.” That participation in the liturgy, that participation in the Body of Christ, was part and parcel of their reason for being there, and for going forth.
The breaking of the bread. A phrase appearing twice in four verses of Acts 2. Significant to the early Christians. A sharing of common bread mirroring the sharing of their possessions in common. A testimony to their manner of life. What was whole, individual, became broken that it might be shared. And “day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved” (Acts 2:47b).
The breaking of the bread. In the Emmaus Road story, it too becomes the event in which the participants are changed. What those two disciples had seen, heard and discussed became much more in the “breaking of the bread.” So much more that they discarded any other plans and returned the seven miles from Emmaus to Jerusalem to tell the others.
The breaking of the bread. Whether millions, thousands, or just a few, what we’ve heard today attests to the transformative power of a relatively simple ritual. But what we’ve also heard is that the power of that ritual is not simply internal. Those who witness the power are sent forth as witnesses. As Eucharistic Prayer C puts it, “Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name” (BCP, 372).
Witnesses transformed into witnesses.
“Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the Bread” (BCP, 372).
Thursday’s Food for Thought: CDSP Community Night. Meet at Canterbury House at 5:20 to walk over to Church Divinity School of the Pacific. We'll join the seminary community for its weekly Eucharist (at 5:45), dinner and discussion. If you choose to meet us at the seminary chapel (on Ridge Rd, just west of Euclid), please be there by 5:40!
Want to Live at Canterbury House? We have spaces open! Contact Janet (firstname.lastname@example.org) or apply online at www.berkeleycanterbury.org (follow the links for the service learning community).