How solid is your faith? I don’t mean how committed and able to withstand setbacks. Instead, I ask how 3-dimensional, physical or concrete?
Thursday is Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ) or, to give it a fuller title, the ‘Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion’. On the night of his arrest Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said This is my body, do this in remembrance of me. Similarly he took a cup of wine saying This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this in remembrance of me (1 Cor 11: 23-25). We know that from the earliest times, drawing on this, Jesus followers broke bread together and shared a common cup ‘in remembrance of him’. (Eg: Matt 26:26; Mk 14:22 et seq; Lk 22:14 et seq; Acts 2:46). Yet, tragically, this sharing of bread and wine has also been one of the deadliest points of conflict within the church. Why is bread and wine so important?
In Jesus, God became human, but Jesus ascended to his Father 2000 years ago. In our daily living, we may see the footprints of God but not his physical self. Spirit is, to us, ethereal and otherworldly so when faith rests on things unseen, on ideas and concepts, the connection between the God we profess to follow, to believe in, and the day-to-day business of living in the here-and-now is weakened.
Yet the reality is, we are physical beings; made in God’s image, living in God’s world. In Jesus the human and divine; the physical and the spiritual all meet. Jesus shows us just how much God cares for us in this current state. Our bodies, our physicality, matter to him. If my body matters to God, so does yours, so do those of every neighbour; and we know what Jesus said in response to the question ‘Who is my neighbour?’ (Lk 10: 29-37). We know, also, that Jesus consistently reached out to touch those who were outside respectable society; the sick, the sinner. He may have said ‘man cannot live by bread alone’, but he also fed 5000 hungry listeners, and healed many broken or sick physical bodies.
And herein, I suggest, lies the importance of bread and wine; being to us the body and life-blood of Jesus. This is a physical, tangible, touch of the divine. It is the point at which the mystery of God and the plain physicality of our own lives meet. It is a reminder that God comes to us; invites us into his presence and demands that we share him with others.
Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament you have given us the memorial of your passion: grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may know within ourselves and show forth in our lives the fruits of your redemption;
Rev Philip Payne Corpus Christi 2023.
The Notice Sheet for 11th June can be found here
 From: the Collect for Corpus Christi