Saturday, December 1, 2007

Altar Bread

As a member of the Altar Guild I have the opportunity to make the bread for the Eucharist, or Communion, or the Lord's Supper as I learned it growing up.

I'm making the bread for December, which means all of Advent and Christmas.

Interesting to think about the Eucharist while awaiting the Coming Lord. This is one thing I love so much about Liturgical worship, it is non-linear. Time is played with during the year. Yes, we follow the year and passion of Jesus. But we always center our worship, temporaliy, on the Eucharist, the Jesus Meal, as N.T. Wright calls it.

During the Eucharist as the story of the Last Supper, or was it the first(?), is told, Jesus says:Do this in rememberence of me. But the original Greek uses the word animnesis which means remember again, pretty much rememberence but it's more. Language is born in culture, so this word animnesis means more than recollection, more than a psychic souvenir.

Amimnesis is a greek word of a Jewish notion, it means to recall in the grandest sense. Recall in the way the Jews recall the Passover. At Passover the Exodus is retold in the first person, we, us. At Passover the meal is for the freed Hebrews, right there at the meal. Animnesis is about collapsing the artificial bonds of time to call the past to the present, the present to the past and wrap it all in the promise of God's future.

When we celebrate Eucharist, we are with Jesus and his disciples, and they are with us. There, at the Table, the Kingdom is Come.


Here's what St. John Chrysostom says: "Remembering, therefore, this command of the Saviour [i.e., to eat and drink in remembrance of him] and all that came to pass for our sake, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father and the second, glorious coming..." This is the anemnisis from the Divine Liturgy.

And here's a rather dry definition from the Episcopal dictionary:

Anamnesis:This memorial prayer of remembrance recalls for the worshiping community past events in their tradition of faith that are formative for their identity and self-understanding. The prayers of anamnesis in the various eucharistic prayers emphasize and make present the saving events of Jesus' death and resurrection.


Coop said...

"Let us who mystically represent the cherubim, and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life creating lay aside all earthly cares".

This is the hymn chanted immediately before Communion in the Orthodox tradition. It is chanted solemnly and many times over while the Priest prepares. There is no set number of verses--no time constraint...just whatever is needed. This is an element to Ancient Christianity that we can all learn from--the sense of timelessness. In the Divine Liturgy (which can sometimes last very long, but not always) people move about freely, lighting candles, reverencing icons, tending to babies--no one is disturbed because the space that is entered is free from time. We are so concerned about the 35 min. homily so that everyone can get out and on to lunch by 12:45 that we miss out on this saving grace of the Eucharist and Christian worship altogether...timelessness. And, as you have pointed out, this is characteristic of our entire Church year!

As the Eucharist begins, the Faithful chant..."Recieve the body of Christ, taste the fountain of immortality" again with no particular number of times depending upon the size of congregation. Immortality and timelessness become synonyms though they only mutually suggest each other.

Coop said...

this has nothing to do with the simply is a thought--a concern and a prayer in some respect.

i am heartbroken at the swiftness of the Episcopal Church in America's coming schism from the National Church, the Anglican Tradition. simply heartbroken. i fear that the American church has done something rather unforeseen--it has raised one of the three components of Anglican spirituality above the others. it has made "common sense" higher than both Tradition and Scripture. i know that sounds weird, and who wouldn't want a church that is based upon common sense--but one must come to terms with the fact that our faith is deeply paradoxical...that there is nothing really common about the gospel. it is the marginal and edgy Jesus that we follow. i feel particularly at liberty to say that it is simply not through "common sense" that one approaches the mystery of the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit or the Godhead. in fact, this part of the mind must a way, suspended? at least aloud to sit back for a bit.

only destruction is swift and that is what this further schism is. how many protestant "denominations" are born each year? now another is born.

we MUST be patient with Holy Church and trust that she will guide us in the way of all Truth.

how very sad.