The Eucharist Never Ends

The AJC is a pretty geeky err… technology-friendly organisation. Most of the clergy and many of the lay folk are on Facebook, use Twitter and have blogs. I often joke that without Google Docs we wouldn’t get anything done. In fact, it’s fair to say that it would have been hard for our church to spread and grow as it has without the web. How on earth did people find each other in the 1970s?

Anyway, amongst some of the clergy, there has arisen a custom of using Twitter to let each other know when somewhere in the Johannite world, someone just celebrated a Eucharist. It’s really simple: you just tweet, “The Eucharist never ends!” (one of the closing lines of the liturgy). If you see such a tweet, it’s conventional to respond, “Alleluia!” Very simple and it helps to extend our sense of being a church out through space. We don’t always do it, I certainly often forget, but it’s a sweet custom.

So, a few minutes ago I finished offering a Eucharist here at my home in Sydney on Easter Sunday and I wandered out to my computer and tweeted. At almost the same moment, my bishop and patriarch in Calgary tweeted. I suspect that he smiled roughly when I did, realising that without any planning or coordination we’d just said Mass simultaneously on opposite sides of the globe.

Whenever we say that formula in the liturgy, I tend to understand it as indicating that the outpouring of God’s love and our thanksgiving extends infinitely through time. Just because I’m extinguishing the candles and we’re all going home, doesn’t mean anything’s finished – we commit to carrying this new mind into our daily lives each time. I still think that’s a perfectly sensible interpretation.

But today, my attention was drawn to our globe and that concept we affirm in the Statement of Principles (and many mainstream Christians affirm in the Nicene Creed), of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – that great Ecclesia, all those people, churches and organisations – gnostic, orthodox, Roman, Byzantine, Oriental, protestant, which locate themselves in the Christian tradition. None of whom agree with each other on who’s in and who’s not, all of whom pretty much disagree on everything important about belief, practice and sometimes even the nature of reality itself.

But still, most of us offer the Eucharist in our own way, and you can be pretty certain that whenever you’re participating in the liturgy of communion, there are thousands of other people in other places doing the same thing in their own way. There were thousands finishing as you started, and thousands more will start as you finish. Different languages, different prayers, different scriptures, but still, voices raised in praise and thanksgiving for the fact of the Divine Presence here, in our midst, in our very hearts. A fact enabled, note, by the “brokenness” of the Church, by its lack of unity, by its inability to agree.

And so the Eucharist never ends. It is unbounded by space, by time, by organisational boundaries, by doctrine, by rules – one great Ecclesia endlessly offering itself and the world to be transformed and healed.

Thanks, Twitter. That’s pretty neat.

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