magic, the hokey-pokey, and the Eucharist

On Facebook, I posted that my Advent observation at this time consisted of trying to remember the lyrics to a specific Christmas song (a not very religious one, I might add). That’s not entirely true, but it is sort of. While Easter never really sneaks up on me, thanks to Lent and the whole giving-something-up thing), Christmas does. I blame it mostly on academic stress, since it’s the time of last classes and finals and papers and whatnot. I’ve been trying to live Advent a little more, and slowly but surely, I’m getting in the mood.

On that note, I read this blogpost today, which really resonated with me. (Go and read it. I’ll wait.)

I tend to be a John-the-Baptist-kind-of-Christian:

In the prophetic mind of John the Baptist, there is no magic. There’s only pragmatics: Share. Give what you can. Be Fair. Don’t cheat. Do no harm. Don’t abuse power.
I’m not exactly distrustful of spiritual stuff, but I find myself much more comfortable with pragmatics than with magic.
But I read on, and Kaeton talks about the magic of the Eucharist:

Presiding at Eucharist is a daunting task. Other than preaching, it is one of the most naked, vulnerable tasks one can do. It is about bringing all of your brokenness – my brokenness – all of the brokenness of the people you are called to serve, all of the brokenness of the world, and offering it all before God for reconciliation and healing.

It is awesome – and awe-full – and magical.

Yes, it’s all that, but it is not magic.

The magic comes from the symbolic power of what we do together. Because, when we bring all that brokenness before God and all the saints – past, present, and yet to come – for reconciliation and healing, Jesus promises to be fully present to us.

And, I believe He is. It is daunting and overwhelming and always, always a privilege to be a vehicle and servant of God. The Eucharistic is a magical, mystical dance into which we are all invited so that we might leave this place and dance out into the mission of the gospel. Yes, it’s magical and wonderful, but it’s not magic.

I read that, and I remembered all the times partaking of the Eucharist moved me and changed me. I went to an Episcopal church while I was in Berkeley, where they celebrated the Eucharist every Sunday (in contrast to my church here, which does it once a month, and my old church, that did it five times a year). Every Sunday, we’d come to the altar, and kneel, and take the bread and wine. And so many Sundays, I’d feel with all my heart that Jesus was there, fully present. It was enough to quiet all my doubts and fears, and keep me going on as a Christian through all my questions. Brokenness, yes. But also healing, at the same time.

And even now, when I’ve been home for almost a year, I think of those experiences when I want to give up on the whole church thing – or life, for that matter – and it keeps me going. Those moments at the altar were the closest I’ve come to trusting God in a very long time, and I cherish them for that.

3 thoughts on “magic, the hokey-pokey, and the Eucharist

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