Brought together by the bridge pieces of the Sign of Peace and the Offering, the Liturgy of the Eucharistic [Holy Communion] Meal is the third and final portion of our regular Sunday worship. In many ways, what we do when we celebrate Holy Communion is to be the deepest expression of what Christians believe heaven will be like. In these few moments we have the closest view of heaven we will get this side of being there fully. [According to our Orthodox brothers and sisters, everything to do with worship is a glimpse into heaven…]
Much as the Liturgy of the Word [lessons, homily, prayers] has echoes reaching back 2,000 years to synagogue worship Jesus and the disciples might recognize, the Eucharistic Liturgy has very ancient echoes, as well. These include, most obviously, references to the Last Supper – Jesus’s last meal with his disciples the night before he dies. This event itself includes references back to the Passover [some 1,500 years before the Last Supper]. We also know that what we do at Sunday worship reaches back to the house worship of the earliest Christians. Most congregational worship had a community meal at its center.
One of the great challenges in our Communion Liturgy is to remember that it is a community meal. That the bit of bread and sip of wine not just represent a meal, but is a meal – a community meal, a sign of the great feast that will be heaven in its fullest sense – is the challenge and vision we’re being invited to imagine and bring to life each Sunday we celebrate Holy Communion. This is nothing short of a glimpse of the great promises of God. It is, if only for just a moment, to be a hint of what the world could be and what it will become in Jesus.