The Rule of the religious order to which I belong admonishes me to “seek the sacramental life.” It is, like so many other similar admonishments to particular groups of Christians, simply a reminder to live in the ways that all Christians are called to live, but is exceedingly difficult to do during times of stress and conflict.
Our devotion to mutual love, to sisterhood and brotherhood, to the unity of the Body of Christ, is quite often the first victim of our passion and pride when we are faced with disagreements within the church. In 2009, Neal D. Presa invited readers of Homily Service to reflect upon what it might mean if we brought our identity as living members of Christ’s body, fed on the bread of heaven, to the table of our conflicts in the church.
The early church father, St. Augustine, preached in sermon 272: “Be what you can see, receive what you are. If you are his body and members of him, then you will find set on the Lord’s table our own mystery.” While Augustine was speaking on the occasion of the Eucharist, there is something in that sermon for us. What our text tells us, what Jesus tells us, and what the bread embodies so vividly and tangibly is that we, the members of Christ’s body, must begin to be Christ’s flesh, Christ’s visible presence in the world, to one another, to all.
Imagine what that means. Because Christ has given his flesh to us - in his dying, rising, ascending, and promised return - we are joined to his flesh, united to him, and therefore take on his agenda, his concerns, his very purpose of coming to the world in flesh and blood. Now we, having flesh and blood, blessed by God and the Spirit of Christ, are to be that visible, tangible flesh and blood to the whole world.
Bring that truth and reality, not as abstract doctrines, but as real living people, blessed by God, transformed by God to the debates...
Neal D. Presa. Homily Service 42:3, 114
Neal D. Presa, pastor of Middlesex Presbyterian Church in Middlesex, New Jersey was elected moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Saturday evening, June 30th, 2012.