My Dear Parishioners,
On Wednesday evenings in Lent, we are looking at the first Post Communion Prayer on page 147 of the BCP. We are splitting it up into five segments for purposes of analysis. So here is a commentary on the first segment; those who are not able to attend will be able to share in this way, and it will be a ‘refresher’ for those who have been able to attend.
“Almighty Father, we thank you for feeding us with the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ.” In the Gospel narratives there are two occasions of our Lord feeding multitudes: we find him feeding 5000 and 4000, and this is mentioned by all four evangelists. Therefore, these events must be of some particular significance. He feeds people with real bread and we see him satisfying their hunger with solid food. As we look at him at work bringing in God’s reign, no sign wrought by him seems to move the multitude as greatly as those connected with the feedings, involving large crowds of people. It seemed to them to be a repetition of the ancient wonder of manna in the wilderness; and this manna was considered by the Jews as the greatest of Old Testaments miracles.
In Holy communion we consider ourselves to be fed with manna - manna which is both \earthly and heavenly food - as receiving sustenance for our spiritual hunger, because the bread and wine, the work of human hands and symbols of our life and labour, these do represent our toil and care; our labour and our love for God as well as God’s love for us.
When we have received a gift from anyone, the least we can do is to express our gratitude to that person who gave the gift. When we have received God’s gifts - and oh, God’s gifts are numerous and undeserving - the smallest reaction which we can make is to express our thanks to him; and this is what we do in this special prayer, at the end of the distribution of Holy Communion; in so doing we are thinking of ,and offering thanks to, our God for earthly bread and bread eternal. Jesus himself said, “I am that Bread of Life.”
This is an assertion which was the outcome of the feedings. Jesus taught this miracle as a parable of a spiritual truth in his teaching about himself as the Bread of Life. So too, in our own day whenever and wherever Jesus feeds, it is an acted parable, a story in action showing that he is the soul Bread for the hunger and the life of the world. “I am the Bread of Life” tells us that the Bread of God is a Person. It is he who comes to men. We note that the Jews conceived of God as being everywhere and Christianity has borrowed the concept as well. Nowhere is beyond God’s scope or influence. Jesus is everywhere,
I believe that it will do us good to recall a few of the things in this life for which you and I should ever be grateful. Blessings are all around us if only we would count them. We have been blessed in the home, at our school, by our parents and friends; we have health, and children. But one of our greatest benefactors has been the Christian Church. We have been greatly blessed by the Church for it has provided for much in our lives which is spiritual and worthwhile, and it has brought out the highest and best in us to make us human, or we would have been like the creatures of the field. Then there are our friendships - another medium by which God has blessed us. Ever so often we need someone to lean on, that is why our friendships should never be despised. One final area for which we must be thankful is our Island Community. This land and territory on which we live, has given a great deal to our well-being and our happiness. We owe so much to the life of these islands in our Federation , in which we were born and our obligations in this regard must be growing stronger day by day. So when we pray to God in thankfulness, we sum up our blessings.
Every blessing upon you and yours! Archdeacon Emeritus