What one thing would make all the difference to your spiritual life?
What is the one easy win that could make a real difference?
What to do amidst the mountains of worthy books on prayer and worship that doesn’t feel too difficult?
I guess we all struggle with those questions sometimes yet take heart for the one thing you do tonight simply by being here makes all the difference. For here we receive Christ, what more could we ask and we take his life into our own.
In an age when we sometimes think of mission as seeking to be ever more relevant and accessible, tonight we remember that the beating heart of the church has been and always will be this Eucharist. For here the bread and wine, by the power of the Holy Spirit become for us Christ’s body and blood.
So the one thing we can do, the easy win, is simply turn up as you have done because that’s what Christ does. Every single time we do this in remembrance of him, he is here with us.
But there is more, the transformation we think of tonight isn’t just about bread and wine but about ourselves. St. Augustine when writing about that moment in the liturgy when the consecrated elements are held up before the faithful, said ‘Behold what you are, become what you receive.’
Just think about those words for a moment ‘Behold what you are, become what you receive.’ They are words that work on so many levels.
Behold what you are – body and blood, created, fragile, precarious human beings.
Become what you receive – nothing less than Christ.
St. Iraneaus in the third century, with words which have a visceral power that engages our imaginations, put it like this:
‘When we drink the cup at the Eucharist, in which wine has become Christ’s blood, his blood mixes with our blood, and they become one. Equally when we eat the bread, which has become the body of Christ, his body mixes with our body, and they become one.’
‘His body, His blood mixes with ours’. Language again that makes us stop and think how through this Eucharist we become one with our Lord and Saviour.
And importantly we become one with him through material things, through the ordinary stuff of life, bread and wine.
Through his incarnation Jesus knew and knows what it is to be human. He knows our mixed motives, our forgetfulness. He know our weakness and how we easily lose heart.
So as his death on the cross approached he knew that he would need to leave something real and tangible to unite and sustain his followers in the difficult days ahead for them.
So he took the bread and wine, the fruit of the earth and at the last supper, the meal before his death, he instituted this Eucharist. So that as we come on bended knee we meet him afresh, are caught up in his life and though we are broken, fragile, hopeless souls, mysteriously, amazingly, we receive him and bit by bit become like him.
So what one thing makes all the difference?
Simply coming here for
even when we come and there are a thousand and one things on our mind,
even when we come and are chatting about all sorts of nonsense,
even when we come and if we’re honest we’d rather be somewhere else,
whatever our mood, feelings or thoughts when we,
open our hands and eat,
take the cup to our lips and drink
we receive Christ.
So my friends ‘Behold what you are, become what you receive.’ It makes all the difference.