Thursday, 27 March 2014

Sensing Lent 20: Cup

Final day of the Oxford Diocesan Clergy conference and it was a day of cups. Giving bread and wine to 350 people presents more logistical issues than with, say, 30 people. You sometimes get quite a bit left over (better than not enough to go round). 

There's something illuminating about Holy Communion as a nourishing meal. When Jesus sat down with his friends to eat the Last Supper before his death he said 'how eagerly have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer' (Luke 22:15). He'd looked forward to it for a while. We know that after a meal in first century Palestine, people would recline at the table - relax and let their food go down. It's an intimate picture of after-supper fullness and fellowship.

A bit like the scene after we had broken bread on the final day of our clergy conference (see above). We feasted on real bread, baked in a workshop, broken and distributed, with left overs, like the feeding of the 5000. The generous left overs sat in the cups in various states of brokenness, waiting to be consumed by as many as want to join in. Dregs of wine mixed in, some cups empty, some not quite, I found it all a glorious picture of plenty, of invitation, of not standing on ceremony, even of a nice bit of mess, such as you normally find on the table after a good meal with friends: 'We are one body because we all share in one loaf.'

I'm not generally prone to breaking into King James-speak, but after the feast that was this conference, the first for over 20 years in Oxford Diocese, I've come away feeling that 'my cup runneth over.'

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