Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Eucharist and Salvation

I few weeks ago I wrote that salvation in the Christian sense of the word is to become free from those forces that threaten our identity, exploit our fears and rob our lives of meaning. I also noted that these forces are that same that are currently destroying our planet, in other words, very real political and economical institutions and powers.

Salvation is something that is properly attained only in the next life, but in faith we are able to receive some of this freedom already in this life. This is indeed the purpose of the Church: to make some of the future freedom present in this world.

In what way does the ritual of the Eucharist proclaim this freedom? In several ways.

When participating in the Eucharist we are strengthened in our identity, because we see ourselves as individuals interacting with others, in a communion not based on what we do or who we are, but on God's grace. If we learn to look at other people in this way, we can also learn to look at ourselves in this way. We also learn something about being human, that is, to be human is to receive rather than to act.

When participating in the Eucharist we are able to find relief from our fear of death, because we see how Christ's death and resurrection is connected to my death and resurrection. Again, it is my bread that is used in the celebration.

When participating in the Eucharist we are shown how our lives are meaningful, by highlighting how we are called to give what we receive to others. During the epiklesis the Spirit descends upon my bread and turns it into the Body of Christ. In the same way my life is transformed and becomes meaningful when I find my relation to God and to other people.

The Sacrament of the Eucharist, then, can help us to cope with our existential situation on many different levels. These are only examples of course, and serve to connect my ideas about the sacraments to the theological ideas of sin and salvation.

Next, I will attempt a discussion on Ecclesiology. I feel this is the most difficult part of the Christian doctrine, because it seems that all models we know have outlived their usefulness. How should we think the Church in a declining culture?


Weekend Fisher said...

I've been enjoying this series, btw.

But the teaser about the next series on ecclesiology "in a declining culture" -- church universal? church triumphant? church in Asian and Africa? I don't think ecclesiology can safely begin with "only the part of the church in this time and place". I'm sure some in Rome and Constantinople thought that the church would end when their civilizations fell ... That the church is more resilient than a culture is also part of ecclesiology.

Take care & God bless

Weekend Fisher said...

I hope I didn't rain on your parade. I'd meant my comment as encouragement. I'd very much like to hear your thoughts. As the old song goes, "Built on the Rock, the church doth stand even when steeples are falling."

Patrik said...

No, your comment is valid, but not one I wasn't planning on addressing of course. I've been very busy the last few weeks, so I haven't had time to work on this. It may have to wait a bit still.

By the way, being a bit tired this morning, I read your quotation: "Built on the Rock, The church don't stand even when the staples are failing."

I have no idea what that means.

Weekend Fisher said...

"doth" (Old English) = "does". Old hymn. The point of the hymn is about the church transcending a fallen culture, even its own falling buildings, the world's falling political structures, that kind of thing.

Btw funny enough I've been working on my next post which is on creation. We're coming at it from somewhat different perspectives though.