Reflection on Communion
by Peter Menkin
A reflection given at Church of Our Saviour, posted because it discusses as part of its body two poems of mine.
A reflection on the Eucharist as central part of my worship experience:
A way of Communion, certain
Church of Our Saviour, Mill Valley, California
Wednesday Eucharist, April 23, 2008
John 15: 1-8
“Abide in me as I abide in you.”
April 22, 2008
As I reflect on our reading today, one that is so meaningful to me as an Oblate of the Episcopal Church, and as a Parishioner, I consider my deep relationship with Christ. This reading about the vine encourages me to enter into Communion, a central means of faith for me, the Eucharist.
I am fortunate, I am encouraged as an Oblate and Episcopalian, to enter into regular Communion, receiving the body and blood of Christ on Sundays, and also in my religious work of offering the Eucharist as a Lay Minister. Sometimes, if one includes Wednesday Eucharist, as today, I have the opportunity of receiving the Eucharist more than three times a week—even four.
The late well known Catholic Priest, Teilhard de Chardin wrote about the Eucharist as a presence in the universe. This famous theological thinker may be known to you. He considered Eucharist a universal and mystical experience in which we as members of the Church live and are –as in being-- as a result of our participation. Here is a poem I wrote about this wonderful religious teacher, as I have experienced the Communion essence. I find writing poetry a way of faith practice, and that I find this act of Communion by body and blood a way of staying with Christ. This poem is set in Lent.
Engaged in Le Milieu Divine
by Peter Menkin
In the habitat zone
where I know God’s presence
I recognize the outer darkness-- transfigure is the
season’s introduction to Le Milieu Divine.
Precarious habitation, there is the greater world where Christ is loci,
even in travails ordinary, extraordinary.
We are of substance existence,
Fill my half-heartedness; unbend me.
Before my trials of devil and insidious evil--the darkness.
You are center point even of my despair, of love,
inside me, outside entering transformation.
May I show penitence, everlasting one adored.
A common theme in all my poetry is reverence for the Eucharist. It is fact for me. Eucharist is central to worship and I consider it at the same time a focus on Christ, as we are encouraged in this reading from John. John is a “mystical” writer of Gospel, and the good news is that we are part of his ministry, as an evangelical, and of course members of the body of Christ.
Because the poem I’ve offered is about Lent, I wanted to share with you another, one about Easter. Another theme of season that I practice as my discipline of religious life. Receiving Easter, is part of the year, to keep Easter in mind as we look forward to it during the year. We are an Easter people, and we share in the risen Christ, and in the Eucharist. Communion is a journey.
By Peter Menkin
To delight in the Paradise
of Easter; it is the Lord's.
Oh, speak in the night, a conversation
of the spirit, a complaint, a plea.
It is the Lord’s will, a renewal
For humankind. Celebrate in the fullness
Do so in the Church at prayer,
Meditating on the day, ones failings,
Surprises—opening to God.
So one speaks, listens, waits
And lives in the knowledge of Easter,
Its seasonal presence. This divine gift.
So may we rest in thee, in aloneness.
We rest in thee, together our love in emotion and soul
binds us joyfully -- thank you
for the morrow in the bringing
of the quickening spirit, a
millennium of blessings in color,
in shadow, in light, early morning.
There is God, our beloved
He calls us.
At the end of the poem, which is posted as an audio reading on our Church website, I say “There is God, our beloved/He calls us.” The reading does remind us that Christ is available to us in spirit, in love, for Christ is a representation and a door to God, and our God --as is Christ,-- is love, and loving. He calls us. So the Eucharist does, too. So the reading reminds me.
I find I can rest in Communion, in the love that is Eucharist, in Christ. “We rest in thee, together our love in emotion and soul/binds us joyfully…” my poem reads. This is a quickening spirit. What a wonderful term, “…quickening spirit…” For us Communion undergirds our life in Christ.
This reading is from, “An Anthology of Christian Devotion: Holy Communion, “ compiled by Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. I commend it to anyone here, and it is available in our Church library.
“It is not only for the individual that the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper has a central, living, mystic meaning, but for the whole community, the whole Church, yes, for all mankind. For here the divine mingles with the human, the terrestrial, here in the Eucharist praise and sacrifice are offered to the Lord for the whole world and by the whole world…and the whole cosmos is hereby potently ennobled and sanctified in that earthly elements of wine and bread become the glorified body and blood of the Son of God. That is why the idea of all creation is assembled in spirit around the Eucharistic altar so constantly recurs in the old liturgies of the East. For through Him, through His death, and through the glorification of His risen body, here mystically represented, creation partakes of the glory of redemption…
“This communion of the soul with God is not a dialogue, but a mighty harmony of many tones, a great organism, a powerful kingdom, a comprehensive brotherhood, a Church of God into which the individual is caught up as a member of the whole body, and which expands and grows into the infinite until it embraces, not only all mankind but the whole creation, the whole cosmos, in a kingdom of eternal life. It is a cosmic, an oecumenical conception.”
If I may make a recommendation, again, as it has been recommended to me, I say enter into the Communion service in as full and complete a way on any Sunday as you can. Or at any time.