Dear St. John’s,
Jesus “had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Acts 24:35).
How I long to break bread with you again, gathered around the altar at St. John’s, and sharing in the eucharistic feast of bread and wine. I have heard all sorts of things since we have been displaced from our building in order to preserve the health of all, For some, this return to Morning Prayer in our common worship is familiar and comforting. This is what you grew up with before the 1979 Book of Common Prayer made weekly eucharist the norm. And, for others like myself, who have spent decades knowing only eucharist as the weekly form of worship in community, this is jarring and disorienting. Wherever you are and whatever you are feeling is perfectly reasonable.
I invite you to think of this time as fasting from eucharist. Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines and this is a unique opportunity to lean into that discipline in a new way. Rather than viewing this as one more thing that has been taken away from us, I invite you to shirt your thinking. This is a time in which we are asked to fast from the eucharist out of love for one another in order that we might protect the entire body of Christ.
As we participate in a communal fast from the eucharistic meal, I wonder:
What do you miss about the Eucharist?
It is jarring to be in the midst of the Fifty Days of Easter and yet, to have not celebrated the eucharistic feast with all of you. I find this situation creating a sense of holy longing for what I miss and what I want. I miss seeing your faces as you come to the altar each Sunday. I miss placing the bread in the palm of your hands. I miss joyfully praising God as a community. And when it comes down to it, I really miss you.
What do you miss about the Eucharist during this time of fasting?
My sisters and brothers, this will not last forever. As orthodox theologian Mark Roosien has written online recently, “But if we must abstain from the eucharist for the good of the Body of Christ and wait for its sweetness, we can meditate on Christ’s sacrificial solidarity with us in our bodily frailty and affliction and wait patiently for the promise of healing and new life.
And so, we wait… We wait during this strange time of exile and lament. And while we are in the midst of all of this waiting, we watch for the resurrection and new life that is sure to come.