Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul corrected the way they were participating in what we today know, depending on our particular tradition, as the Mass, Eucharist, Communion, or the Lord’s Supper.

“When the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk,” he complained.

In those days the bread and wine were standard parts of a meal. The people came together on Sunday evenings to enjoy a potluck in which everyone was supposed to eat well and have plenty to drink.

The Corinthians had lost sight of what this meal was all about. Fundamentally, it involves a recognition of our inherent oneness. As Paul put it, they were eating and drinking their food and wine individually, “without discerning the body.” They had lost sight of the fact that they were part of a single universal body, the body of the Christ.

What Paul decries about this situation is that they have forgotten the essential characteristic of this Eucharistic meal: that God is present in everyone and everything.

This meal was a time for fellowship, which was to be a celebration of their oneness—a oneness grounded in the divine in all of them. Communion was literally meant to be a time for communing between individuals who came together as a body to commune with the divine as it was uniquely expressed in each of them.

When the Sunday evening meal was largely abandoned due to pressure from Rome which saw groups of this kind as subversive, the symbols of bread and wine alone were retained. Consequently the symbols lost their power to create community.

From then on, the bread and wine became an individualistic “me-and-you Lord” type of experience, which is largely what it continues to be today for many people.

Despite the travesty of what this celebration has become, it's one I choose to take part in each Sunday at the Episcopal Cathedral of Arizona. As I do so, I don't in any sense feel like I'm a "mess" in need of forgiveness. The Mass isn't an antidote to our lives being a mess.

Rather, the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us to "come boldly before the throne of grace." We are to come with confidence—faith, not hesitation. (I'll have more to say about this tomorrow.)

So when I kneel at the communion rail with hundreds of others, I'm not focused on myself as somehow "inadequate." Instead I am keenly aware of all the different people, in all their colors, shapes and sizes, with their many different ways of dressing, their many different expressions. I realize we are all expressions of a single Source, manifestations of the divine Presence.

Author's Bio: 

David Robert Ord is author of Your Forgotten Self Mirrored in Jesus the Christ and the audio book Lessons in Loving--A Journey into the Heart, both from Namaste Publishing, publishers of Eckhart Tolle and other transformational authors.

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