There is nothing as precious in worship as the Eucharist. I admit that I don’t have a full bodied understanding of this event, but I know that when I walk away from it I feel changed. When I was in Pentecostal circles we celebrated Eucharist (or “Communion” or “the Lord’s Supper”) on special events like New Year’s Eve. In retrospect, this seems gnostic. Eucharist reminds us that Christ has redeemed the material world in his death, burial, and resurrection. To participate in a physical rite is to honor that reality.
Currently, I am part of an assembly that does Eucharist once a month. I have been part of communities that do it weekly. I have been part of communities that do it a few times a year. After this breadth of experience I wish I could have it every week (though once a month is good)!
There are two things about Eucharist that seem (to me) to make it a perfect element to every Sunday. First, it causes every gathering to end with Christ at the center. For instance, this morning my pastor preached on Samson, but he ended with Christ. Something seems very, very right about this. There is nothing that makes a sermon as great as returning to our Lord and Messiah. Even if there are aspects of the text read or the exposition given that frustrate or concern the listener ending with Christ makes the main thing the main thing. The Eucharist following the sermon makes Christ physical.
Second, I think it brings the people of God into unity. We Christians can be fickle. We may be distracted by our distaste for the songs selected. We may be upset with a point made in the sermon. We may have someone in the room who said something harsh to us beforehand. When we come to Eucharist at the end of the gathering we are forced to embrace the death that brings us together. In Christ’s death all our sins of selfish religion are absolved. We are invited to leave as one in our Lord.
I know some do not like a sacrament that celebrates the breaking of a human body and the shedding of human blood. I do. Our world is violent. I have no qualm with atonement theories that emphasize death and sacrifice. I know why some do, but I don’t. I don’t struggle with the idea that I deserve death for my sinful deeds. Maybe some think they do more good than evil. I know that is not true of me. I have evil thoughts and do evil deeds daily. While I don’t know how Christ’s death satisfied the Father I affirm that it did and I come to the table in thankfulness for Christ, my sacrifice and my high priest.
Evil is violent. Death is violent. It makes all the sense in the world that Christ swallowed evil and death by being trampled upon in violence. Only in Christ conquering violence as he did can I find reason to abstain from using violence to obtain my own purposes. I can relax in the will of the Father because he gave his son to violence to conquer violence so that violence does not have the final word.