Posted by: Titus Presler | December 4, 2011

Eucharist as Sign: Meditation for Advent II Sunday

Eucharist as Sign

A good place to begin in watching for signs is to cherish the signs we’re already given.  Cherish them, and don’t dismiss, diminish or take them for granted.

Today’s Sunday, and people are showing up to worship.  That’s remarkable, since there are so many other interesting things to do.  In many places, both at home and abroad, going to church is a counter-cultural act.  It’s not routine, conformity or status that draws people to church.  It’s God – or the divine, or the spiritual, or the ground of being, or whatever – and that’s a powerful sign of God up to something in people’s lives.

We Christians make lots of signs in our worship, and we call the major signs sacraments: outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace.  “What is a priest?” I asked a group of children from all over the map in the after-school ministry at St. Peter’s Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I knew the drama of eucharist was coming across clearly when Elizabeth, a child who’d been to church just a few times, said immediately, “The one who breaks the bread!”

The inward and spiritual grace conveyed in the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ – forgiveness, union with Christ, intimations of eternal life – modulate through our lives in an infinite number of ways.

One person was puzzled because every time she came to eucharist she began sobbing uncontrollably.  It felt to her like a sign of something.  Talking it out, she identified desolation for love not received as a child, and now gratitude for God’s love for her in Christ.  It was eucharist that drew that out.

For Junior Warden Carolyn Banks, signs in church helped her see signs in the world.  “Eyes like burned-out headlights,” is how she described many of the people she saw daily in Central Square.  Not repelled, she saw those eyes as a call to mission, and over the years that discernment bore fruit in ministries with children, immigrants, and people on the margins.

Some congregations have this sign placed on the inside of their main door for people to see as they leave church: “You are now entering your mission field.”

Worship offers multiple signs.  Let’s be alert for what they signify.

This meditation is excerpted from Titus Presler’s “Alert for Signs: Seeing and Praying in Advent” (Forward Movement Publications). 

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