3 Eucharist

For the baptised, purified community the things of the world announce their maker to us. So for the Christian community, water and bread and wine are God’s opening gambit. By them we learn that these are first instalments. By them we discover that the world is not thing, but course of lessons by which the action and hospitality of God becomes steadily more obvious. These emblems and servants induct us into ever-increasing levels of the full reality of the being of God. They represent the work of this Reality himself – the Word – poured himself out to us, lending us the fullness of his being, but only as fast as that fullness of being himself prepares us to receive it. He does this by supplying us with a succession of subordinate things, each an emblem of the being it is supplied from above, and leads us up to the next and clearer emblem, through a chain of ever improving approximations of perfect reality.

1. Baptism
2. Sacrifice
3. He took flesh
4. Whose table?
5. Laying on of hands
6. The cup
7. Bread as body

1. Baptism – summons to a banquet
God has sent us his Son. We rejected him, and threw him out. But God restored him, imposed him on us and set him over us. Now one man, the one we rejected, has been admitted into the presence of God. Man, in the single person of the Son has come to God. The Son of Man comes home to his Father’s house. He enters the presence of God, effortlessly. He has royal blood; the doorkeepers recognise that he is of the family. ‘He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood having obtained eternal redemption’ (Hebrews 9.12). The Son did not have to pay to get in. But there was a cost in bringing us in with him, and so we can say that he paid this cost (a ‘ransom’ Mark 10.45). He did not pay it in some extrinsic coinage, paid to someone else, but he himself put in the effort needed to bring us in. he cleaned us and clothed us. and he continues now to provide for us, and by this effort he makes consanguine with him (Hebrews 2.11). As he brings us in, he supplies all that we lack. He has us washed and dressed, our wounds bound (Luke 10.34) and restores a right mind to us. His Spirit, visible to us as blood, will heal us, anoint us, give us new bodies dressed in new clothes.
We had no means of access to this place, but with him we have admission, and with him we will enter and sit down and feast with him on the feast he has provided for us. ‘He said to the servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the street and gathered all the people they can find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests’ (Matthew 22.8). ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me’ (Revelation 3.20).

2. Sacrifice – the hospitable action
Sacrifice is the hospitable action of the household of God. The Father gives to the Son all good things. The Son receives them from the Father, and employs them, and returns them to the Father. The Father also gives to us. He give us the Son, and the Son gives us – takes us to – the Father. The Father gives to the Son all the good things so that he can supply us with them. He sends us gifts and power – the Spirit – by which we are drawn after him, to enter heaven in him, as his company. The Father gives the Son all authority and discernment to dose the fullness of his reality slowly to us. He intends to supply us with all those faculties and abilities that will give us the fullness of the being of the Son. He doses the world to us slowly in order to give us the framework within which we can grow the faculties and abilities of the Son. He gives us these things in order to they function as that framework for us. All things are to provide us with the support by which we can move on from lesser to greater competence in the faculties of Christ, to become his hands, his servants. The house servants (priests) escort, serve and wait at table. They serve even the newest and least experienced members that the Son has brought with him.
For the baptised, purified community the things of the world announce their maker to us. So for the Christian community, water and bread and wine are God’s opening gambit. By them we learn that these are first instalments. By them we discover that the world is not thing, but course of lessons by which the action and hospitality of God becomes steadily more obvious. These emblems and servants induct us into ever-increasing levels of the full reality of the being of God. They represent the work of this Reality himself – the Word – poured himself out to us, lending us the fullness of his being, but only as fast as that fullness of being himself prepares us to receive it. He does this by supplying us with a succession of subordinate things, each an emblem of the being it is supplied from above, and leads us up to the next and clearer emblem, through a chain of ever improving approximations of perfect reality.
In the course of practising and trying out these new faculties we are to present him with the products that are evidence of our learning. We are to send him gifts. What we have to send up from God’s inspection is one another.

3. He took bread – the new action
Christ gives his people a new action. Without it being nay the less his own action, he extends some of his action to them, so that it becomes their action too. The bread is to be halved, and half eaten, half passed on. It is to be halved again and passed on and on. It is to be given to each so each really takes, and has a half as his own gift to present and give away to others. The bread piece is not diminished (12 baskets of left-overs in Mark 6.45) but inwardly replenished. It is not the bread, but the taking (receiving), breaking (opening) and handing over (passing on). It is the skill of this triple action that is given.
Our intellect is given the Word as word. Our bodies (whole person) are given something to hold, exchange, and to do. In these two ways, intellectual and physical, our head and our body are brought into a circle of mutual support, body serving head (mind), head serving body to make a single action of service driven by the mind of Christ.

He took flesh
Human being has a sequential form of being. Fallen human being has a fragmented form of existence. We have only a partial and fading body here, because we do not yet know how to return to one another that real bodiliness that Christ has prepared for us. But Christ has taken the sequential and fragmented way in which we are available to one another, and in it he has performed the full action of the perfected human servant and obedient Son of God. He has performed and displayed the full presence and action of the human creature in unbroken relationship with his Creator that God intends for us. Christ has done temporality and spatiality for us with utter virtuosity, employing only the broken elements of existence that fallen human nature consists in. His good performance of humanity makes it no longer fallen humanity. He is real and solid, and our existence is now supplied to us from him by his solid and unfailing being.
God makes things material to us for our sake. God gives aspects of himself away to us in that column of good things that come to us. We must understand God as greedily and venally as the pagans do. Only a savage desire to have and grasp will allow us to understand that the ungraspable God has grasped us. The spiritual harvest (1 Corinthians 9.11) is the fullness of being into which the Christian community is being ushered. The material harvest is that continuous supply of props that serve to build that community to the fullness of the being of Christ, who is the spiritual, and entire, harvest.

4. Whose table?
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. All issues of eating or abstention witness to this confession. At issue is who we are with, and eat and share hospitality with. To share hospitality is to give approval, to accept either as guest or host, as client or as master. We are entirely freed from all other rival gods. We cannot eat with our master and with them.
Eating and drinking is accompanied by a set of obligations, and relates to the possession, control and the constitution of your own body. Food is the product of someone’s work, remains their property, and their invitation to eat. Alien food can make the servant of an alien economy. The people of God may not eat food the origin of which they cannot identify, to ensure that they do not drift into the power of any alien lordship (1 Corinthians 10.20-22). They must know which food comes through institutions that would make them complicit in exploitation, and ingestion of which would make weaken rather than strengthen the body, and their bodies.
The life which is in you is merely lent to you. It may not be decanted into the bodies of gentiles and their lords. We cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. Jesus refused the whole ‘fruit’ of the regimes of Anaias and Herod. ‘I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine’ (Mark 14.24). He refused to eat with these powers, that made the whole people sinful.
Jesus has separated the injured of Israel from their sin, both from their own acts, and from the acts committed against them. He has borne this sin away from them. He drains out the entire cup of their resistance. He can drink down all they can give him, and be undefeated.
The life is in the blood. Israel was instructed not to eat the blood of any animal in order to witness that life is solely the gift of God, and must be returned to him. Israel must not attempt to consume to exhaustion the inexhaustible gift of God or attempt to break down and consume the indivisible (un-break-down-able) gift of God. Israel is taught not to consume utterly the life of God which God has given to his creatures, and which continues to belong to him.
Do not gather all the manna in an attempt to make yourself self-sufficient (Exodus 16.16-19), do not tear down barns to build bigger ones (Luke 12.18-19) so you no longer have to come to God’s table for this food. You must receive it from his hand, and thus daily.
If you eat God’s food, the product of the land of his promise, his property is in you and makes your body an extension of his property. Producer (host) and eater (guest) are united, one loaf (1 Corinthians 10.17) With this food is the obligation to be his servant, to take up God’s action of playing host. You have to have your stewardship of his property affirmed to you by the poor you share it with. Do not consume the whole meal alone. By this action of hosting them and sharing with them the property of God, they are also brought into his household, and are regarded as your godchildren and the proof of your good stewardship. We are all made of the same material, produced by the estate of the same Lord. Eating from a different estate would give us another kind of body. There are many kinds of body, but since we all eat from the estate of our single Lord we only have his kind of body, one which cannot be broken down or divided by any other kind of food.
In the course of practising and trying out these new faculties we are to present him with the products that are evidence of our learning. We are to send him gifts. What we have to send up from God’s inspection is ourselves. Yet we are not ready (holy) to go, so we send a representative and token of ourselves. We send someone else up, and send with them something that will bring us to mind for God. This must be something of ourselves, an item from our own household or estate, someone we have brought into being. We cannot send the work of another man. We cannot let anyone be our servants. We have been told to work with our own hands (1 Thessalonians 4.11). Since you are now a servant, you may not employ anyone to do your work for you. We cannot send anything with a representation of anyone else on it, such as the image of Caesar on a coin. We cannot send any monetary token, but only our own product that will be truly a token of ourselves.

5. Laying on of hands
We are dressed and commissioned to serve at this feast. We are made servants who are to pass this feast on, to gather others and bring them in to share it with us. This feast gives us a new identity and authority – that of servants, of the Lord. The bishop, and through him the whole community, places hands on us, and authorises and empowers us to take up some particular place within the congregation. They give us our office. This being given a specific office is intrinsic to the event of our baptism. The Christian is clothed in the glory and authority given by God. We are to take the first-fruits of the feast out, and distribute them to the people, and we are to prepare the people to come in. we have to dress them for this feast. God clothed Israel from outside. The high priest was dressed in white robes, anointed with oil, and so clothed in the glory of God. He took on the appearance of the fire and light of Sinai, God’s own appearance. Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments (Leviticus 8.30).
But the Christians are internally clothed by the Spirit who re-engineers their metabolism from inside. ‘The perishable been clothed with imperishable’ (1 Corinthians 15.54). ‘Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus’ (Romans 13.14). ‘You have clothed yourself with Christ’ (Galatians 3.27). We long ‘to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, for when we are clothed we will not be found naked’ (2 Corinthians 5.2-4). Then we will not hear the master say ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ (Matthew 22.11).
We are being given a glorious body. This body will not be made merely of this or that part. It will include every element of the world. It will therefore shine with the glory of that entire finished creation. The whole world will be present in us. Every element of the world will be represented in us and by us. Because nothing is left out, it will not be partial, and not being partial, it will have a limitless duration.
A spiritual body
We are given (‘ordained’) a place in the body. The arrangement of the various sections of the gathered congregation represent the organisation of the redeemed universe, the more experienced at the front, the less at the back.
With what kind of body are they raised? (1 Corinthians 15.35) The Corinthians ask which parts of us are redeemed and which jettisoned: the answer is that all parts make the whole, so the whole is raised. Every part will have its place and role in this whole which larger than the sum of the parts yet assembled. All flesh is not the same (15.39). There is for example a intellectual part and a more material or bodily part to this body. The mental forms the head, the emotions and needs form the body. But this mental, intellectual or spiritual part is not intended to rebel against or escape from bodiliness and materiality. The resurrection is not flight from the world. It is the final arrival of proper worldliness, spiritual bodiliness, perfect availability one to another. It is the complete (spiritual) world or meta-world. It is the real world. The Christian teaching on resurrection is against escape from the body. Christians are not a spiritual elite, already raised from the common run of humanity. The body will be united with the head, will grow from it and receive all its definition from its head. Christ will be that head, the mind of the body and the leader of the body, and his people will be the body that grows from him. There are lots of partial bodies. All flesh is not the same. The world has been divided and become the warring fiefdoms of the rival gods, each making a claim to be independent, and to be many incompatible sorts of ‘flesh’. But the resistance of these rival fiefdoms has been met and broken. The victory of God is now to be made public to the world. The parts are no longer isolated or at war with each other. The new Christian community formed by this victory is to demonstrate that new unity, the wholeness of the body, to the whole world. They are all merely parts. Alone, each is divisible, prey to time and decay. But the Christians will have a complete body, indivisible and immune to time and decay. They will no longer be merely parts, competing sorts of flesh, but parts of the whole. They will be raised a total – spiritual – body. 3.21-3 All things are yours, whether… the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours and you are of Christ and Christ is of God. 15.20 the first-fruits of those who have been raised from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 11 we are taught that men and women should not attempt to play down or alter their gendered social roles. Proper distinction of the differences and identification of the parts is required to celebrate the reconciliation that makes the unity of the one body. Christians are not saved from of the body or from the world. The body, world and materiality are not a mistake or simple holding-operation. They are being built into a thick and full set of relationships, being propelling from a thinner into a thicker embodiedness.

6. The cup
Whether the cup comes before or after the bread determines whether the cup is bitter or the cup of thanksgiving and celebration. Dix ‘The Shape of the Liturgy’ (p.48) offers a seven-part schema: He (1) took bread, (2) gave thanks (3) broke it and (4) gave it to them, (5) took the cup, (6) gave thanks (7) gave it to them.
Jesus drinks down the cup of the wrath of the nations ‘You who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to the dregs the goblet that makes men stagger’ (Isaiah 51.17). God has been subjecting mankind to all the different drinks of all the gods until he is near poisoned with this intoxication. ‘Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the valley of Jehoshaphat for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the wine-press is full and the vats overflow – so great is their wickedness’ (Joel 3.12). They cannot digest or keep down the results of their actions.
Only the Son can do this. Jesus drinks down the cup of the wrath of the nations. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ (Matthew 20.22). ‘I have trodden the wine-press alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood splattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart and the year of my redemption has come. I looked but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support, so my own right hand worked salvation for me… in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground’ (Isaiah 63.2). In Revelation 14.14-20 the harvest is the bread (people redeemed) and the vintage wine the blood spent in this redemption. The gentiles become the punishment of God to each other. The blow was delivered by God was struck by each against all. They have to drink from their own cup.
But this takes place in the idiom of the blood of only one of their number, one of the nations elect for this purpose – Israel. Her blood runs, and therefore their blood has run. The gentiles are let, and Israel is the blood that flows out. All the blood shed by the gentiles is pointless suffering from the wounds they inflict on each other. Yet Israel’s king really suffers because those that he regards as his own people and substance, are wounded. He bears them and is covered in their blood. Because he has determined that they belong to him, their blood is his. Because it is his determination to drive them to atonement through this crisis, it must be laid to his account, yet he did not shed it. He is wounded because those who are his fight him and each other, and bleed. He is not wounded because they inflict wounds on him: they have no means of touching him. Death inflicts injuries on Jesus that the resurrection demonstrates have no duration or lasting reality. Yet their wounds are healed and lacks are supplied by him, his substance, blood. But this blood does not come from his wounds. It is the opponent that receives the wound that is fatal, and whose blood runs. By drinking down the cup of the wrath of the nations (Isaiah 51.17-22) Jesus transforms it into a cup of salvation and healing for the nations.
But anyone who ‘eats and drinks without recognising the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself’ (1 Corinthians 11.27). That is why many of you are weak and sick. Taken in too strong doses that we have not built up the metabolism to digest it will toxic for us. outsiders cannot drink it because it is too strong for them. What should serve to build up stronger constitutions would poison the weaker.

7. Bread as body
The Son represents the action of heaven’s reaching down to earth, by which earth is brought into union with heaven and made one circulation and economy with it. The Son is the union of God’s stewardship of man with man’s stewardship of the world. The gifts (sacrifices) brought by the community represents samples of its husbandry by which it demonstrates its good stewardship.
With the teaching ‘This is my blood , this is my body’ Jesus invited to his table those that the temple had not invited. The temple could not make its guests pure but those who eat with Jesus are made pure: his meals are the restorative for those who are injured. The performance of the Son at last makes a people pure enough to enter and eat with God. Domestic breaking bread represents the moment when the master is at home, fasting ends, feasting begins. The Lord’s supper is a demonstration that he has come into his kingdom, and we eat with him there, him there, us here, heaven and earth opposite sides of one table.
The cup is the recollection (anamnesis) of the event of Jesus’ celebration of the Passover on the eve of the battle and exodus. This is the last time we are going to eat together until we have come through the battle. Paul teaches that Jesus’ last meal occurred on the night that he was betrayed, to connect the eucharist to his battle and victory. Jesus spends blood (Mark 10.45), that is, his own force, to beat the attack of rebellious force and halt the rebellion that is causing the whole world to bleed. He has spent his blood, the blood of those already loyal to him, in order to save (the spilling of) the blood of those presently engaged in self-defeating resistance to him. He spent all the blood in his account to prevent us spending all our blood into a different and utterly wasteful account – in which it would receive only destruction.
The Lord Jesus on the night that he was betrayed, took bread, and broke it… (1 Corinthians 11.23-4). He was handed (paredidoto) over to us, and we laid our hands on him. Who is able to catch, hold and consume whom? Evil men laid hands on him, but they were not able to hold on to him. They took the bait, intending to consume him as they consume so many others, but they were caught by his power.
This bread is the only real food. ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life’ (John 6.54) We are to bite into him, as our weapons have bitten into him, to close our jaws around him and not let go, as he will not let us go. The scandalous theme of flesh-eating drives home the utter centrality of the person of Jesus. We are not to consume and gobble up the poor, but with the same single-mindedness to grasp him and hang on to him.
(1) He took bread. He took bread as he has taken us. He elected us. He has seized and drawn us together, assembling us from all parts of the cosmos. The bread and wine is us.
(2) He gave thanks. He answered for us (on our behalf) the original speech-act, God’s creation and blessing of his creation, in which he announced that we were to come into its possession. The Son gave thanks. He gave the response that we could not yet give for ourselves, by which this act of transfer was received and completed. He leads us in our liturgical acceptance speech to the Father by which we receive all blessing from him.
(3) He broke it. He withstood us and we were broken (Matthew 21.24, Psalm 118.22-23). In being broken by us on the cross he parodied our action against him, becoming like the seed that can be scattered and sown. The unbreakable broke himself open and into pieces, so we should not be shattered, and so we could receive him piece by piece and so be built up into one whole.
(4) He gave it to them. He gives it to us not only as thing but as action and mandate. He gives us the whole range of actions by which we can take up our responsive action, place and task.
Jesus is the baptism, and he is baptised. He is the meal, and he eats the meal with his disciples (John 21.13). Jesus is the sacrament, and he undergoes the whole course and process of sanctification. He is the lesson, and he learns it himself. The Son learned obedience (Hebrews 5.8).
He gives us bread (manna, quail, fish) to show what we can do with it. We must show that we can follow his action in breaking it open and distributing without limit. We are given it to show that we have his gift of division and distribution, that allow us to keep on dividing what we have to feed one, two, three thousand, and still have so much over that we can go on. Though it costs us everything we have we can reach further into the pot, always fear that we are about to run out, but still have something for everyone who comes to us. He is are ‘being poured out like a drink offering’ (Philippians 2.17), and is ‘outwardly wasting away’ (2 Corinthians 4.16) The accomplished disciple can multiply it and scatter his seed/bread so it can host a multitude and bring in much fruit, much more bread.
We are to be greedy with this bread and ambitious about this harvest. We must pick it up with both hands, crunch it up and gulp it down. But the modern Church is not hungry, having filled up on the husks, and cannot tell food from rubbish. What the gods have fed it, it has swallowed. It has internalised all the many and incompatible and warring ‘gospels’ served at all the many feasts of rival powers. It has no idea how to desist from internalising everything that passes in front of it. It has snacked, and it has been snacked.
But the bread of God re-engineers us with a new palette and discernment. It gives us good action, and a set of criteria and instincts that make us move from the good to the better action, from the simpler work to the heavier. The bread of God infinitely responsive magic bullet that serves as antidote (pharmakos) to whatever deficiency it finds. It creates a new appetite, making us properly greedy but discerning eaters, no longer prepared to put anything else in our bodies.