Week Four: Praying the Sacrament
For many, the pandemic has meant a rupture in our ability to participate fully in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We long to gather in community in our church buildings, to pass the peace, and to receive the bread and wine. The year-long lack of this ritual – which is at the heart of our faith – has been palpable, painful. And yet, we believe that God is at work, even in this experience of longing and absence. As we discover how we can gather and worship as the Church in the shifting circumstances of these challenging times, we are also invited to discover new ways to receive Christ in the Eucharist and to carry his message of love into the world.
By virtue of our Baptism, we are ushered into the household of God, the Church. We are one Body in Christ Jesus. This week, as you join us (or another virtual congregation) for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, pick one of the people who is receiving the elements, and allow them to receive for you. Our willingness and desire to receive Jesus in the Sacrament are enough. As you partake in spiritual communion, pray that you will be nourished, sustained, and transformed by this sacred act of communion, which transcends material limitations.
In the Eucharist, we act out sacramentally the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are called to enact this in the world, by laying down our lives for one another. Think of what you have sacrificed over this year. Make this “laying down of your life” a eucharistic offering to God.
Br. Jim recalls the story of Emmaus, in which two disciples, mourning their Lord, are surprised to discover that Jesus has been with them all long. How have you been surprised to meet Jesus during this time of longing and lack? How have you met him in the breaking of the bread?
We believe that Jesus is making all things new, even in the midst of the chaos and destruction of this pandemic. While we cannot yet see over the hill, we trust that he is at work, transfiguring this situation. How is this true in your own life right now? Where is God at work, bringing life out of death?
Eucharist | We warmly invite you to join us for the Holy Eucharist: Sunday at 9am EST & Tuesday at 5:30pm EST. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.
Silent Prayer before the Sacrament | Join us Thursdays in Lent, from 5:15-5:45pm EST for a time of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.
Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm EST for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. We hope to see you there!
Download a one-page summary sheet on praying the Sacrament, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.
Brother Jim and Brother Sean, through your discussion I heard that Jesus is with me on my many roads to Emmaus, even when I don’t know he is there, and even when I am unaware that I am on the road. These realizations are opening me up to new ways of being with God, and are deepening my understandings of my relationship with God. In summary, I don’t have to figure out how this all works, nor make up what God is saying to me. I notice myself releasing some of the controls and conditions that as a human I’m quite good at creating and holding onto. Thank you all for walking on the Emmaus road with us.
I have shared this story before with others but it seems very apropos here and now.
Some 4 decades ago, there was a former Bishop’s messenger living in retirement in a small house on the SSJE property in Bracebridge. She spoke about her time in the far north – going for months without a priest to celebrate the Eucharist. She and her companion (they were always sent in pairs), would pray the words together and, when it came to receiving, would go through all of the motions of holding out their hands, receiving, and consuming but without any physical substance. This clarified, for me, sacrament as the “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”. Since that time, when worshiping in communities where I was not permitted to partake, this beautiful image of the Bishop’s messengers in remote regions, has been both comforting and inspirational.
I am so glad you mentioned by proxy. We pray the scriptures by proxy all the time when all the high churches pray the same scripture passages at every mass we are covering those who cannot attend and praying for the whole world. So the eucharist would not be different. Each gesture or rememberance brings us that much closer and more embodies the Spirit. Thank you for this offer and gesture. I see my priest twice a month pass out the bread on fb. Not only are we in isolation but 13 churches in my area lost priests. No parishioner receives the wine. Partial elements is not the same so I am hoping Eucharist by proxy will help me more. The Adoration of the Eucharist helped me today. I could also feel Christ in the stone walls as well as in the room and the Bread. I felt the walls with my hands in my spirit and I was there. The spiritual ambiance is great! Thank you for this gift.
What a Power Team– a former Southern Baptist and a former atheist!
I too came to the Episcopal Church as an adult, from the Southern Baptists. We’re all God’s chil’ens, I think, but worshiping with a liturgy, on the three-legged stool of Scripture, reason and faith is my terra firma now.
Your suggestion about having a proxy receive for you seems rather like telling a starving person that you will eat for them. There has to be a better way.
Thank you for this wonderful series. Today I am so grateful that my parish has delivered the consecrated host to all so that we are able to participate in the live-stream eucharist each week. It’s not exactly like being in Church but it is tangible and a blessing to receive.