More on CWOB

A new entry on the current CWOB (Communion Without Baptism) discussion so ably chronicled by bls (plus updated addenda of course…) has appeared this morning at the Episcopal Cafe.

Dr. Deirdre Good from GTS has posted a most thought-provoking work on hospitality. This is, of course, a virtue constantly emphasized in Benedict’s Rule that reminds us that love of neighbor is only realized when enacted–especially as we greet Christ in the person of the stranger. In this reflection, Dr. Good presents the open table as a central practice of Christian hospitality.

I like her reflection–but I’m not ultimately convinced. The Eucharist is not just a meal–it is a ritual meal. Christians believe that there is something categorically different between eating this bread and drinking this wine and eating other bread, drinking other wine. A non-Christian would presumably not agree. As Anglicans we believe that Christ is truly present in this meal in a way not found in others. I’m feeling something around this that I can’t articulate with the precision I’d like yet–but it’s something like this: If we believe that Christ is really present do we take the presence of divinity so lightly? So much so that we do not even warn those who are about to take it into their own bodies? Is this a domestication of divinity–an assumption of safety–that attempts to collapse an encounter with the Wholly Other?

6 thoughts on “More on CWOB

  1. bls

    I think the last thing you say is what Caelius was arguing at the outset.

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, that this is bringing up so many issues? And that we none of us seem to agree on what Eucharist actually is, or about what it entails?

    Well, that’s what the blogs are for, as we all know! ;)

  2. Derek the Ænglican

    Yes–I think so. Caelius was coming specifically from the perspective of 1 Cor 11:27-32; I’m coming from a less textual basis…

    I wouldn’t say that none of us agree on what the Eucharist is but I would say that this discussion reveals some very different thoughts on it. I’m still waiting for the Scotist to answer your excellent question…

  3. *Christopher

    Yes. That’s the problem. We are taking into ourselves under bread and wine, the divinized, new humanity, flesh of the Risen Lord. Love costs. And its also a matter of discerning the community. Baptism sets the stage for the type of costing it will be, given I take Maundy Thursday and desert hospitality washing, as a basis for how God serves us in Baptism.

  4. *Christopher

    In other words, it seems to me, we’re setting people up to take a Cup that will turn their lives upside down and inside out. Requires crash helmets as Annie Dillard would say.

  5. bls

    Here’s a rubric from the BCP, BTW, that adds weight to what you’re saying here, Derek (my bold):

    If any of the consecrated Bread or Wine remain, apart from any which may be required for the Communion of the sick, or of others who for weighty cause could not be present at the celebration, or for the administration of Communion by a deacon to a congregation when no priest is available, the celebrant or deacon, and other communicants, reverently eat and drink it, either after the Communion of the people or after the Dismissal.

  6. Derek the Ænglican

    …Of course the elements could be reserved but that might lead to adoration. Whoops! Too late! ;-)

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