Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Koinonia with the Anglicanphile Bishop of Rome

The recent visit of the Pope to the Anglican parish in Rome has been news for the past several days. Here is Archbishop David Moxon's personal reflection on the visit (from here):

The Holy Spirit is always quickening and surprising us, and always present anyway in our openness to faith hope and love. This was the case on Sunday evening at All Saints' Anglican Church in Rome, where Pope Francis made history by being the first Pope ever to visit the church.

There were many ground breaking moments, and I think that three stand out.

Firstly, having offered a question and answer dialogue to the parish, the Pope engaged in an unforgettable dialogue with local parishioners on ecumenism and shared mission. In particular Pope Francis fascinated us by describing the practise he had experienced in Argentina:
 
In the Northern part of Argentina, there are Anglican missions with the indigenous peoples and Catholic missions with the indigenous people, and the Anglican bishop and the Catholic Bishop from there work and teach together. And when people are not able to go to catholic celebrations on Sunday, they go to the anglican one, and the Anglicans go to the catholic ones, because they don’t want to spend Sunday without a celebration; and they work together. And here the congregation for the doctrine of the faith knows this. And they do charity together. And the two bishops are friends and the two communities are friends.

... They don’t negotiate the faith and their identity, that indigenous person from Northern Argentina says to you “I am Anglican”. But [when]there is no Bishop, there is no Pastor, there is no Reverend... “I wish to praise God on Sunday and go to the Catholic Cathedral”, and vice versa.*
 
This is a transfiguring story. By this he teaches us to be less anxious over our differences and unresolved doctrinal issues, while still working hard on them, but to commit ourselves more and more to sharing and partnership as we seek God and give ourselves to heal the worlds divisions, wounds and sins.
 
Secondly, the Pope mentioned a possible joint peace initiative by him and Archbishop Justin Welby in South Sudan, by local ecumenical invitation, to help the mediation process to end the civil war and the human tragedies of that country. If this happens, (and the Pope said it must), we will begin to minister to the world together in a totally new way.
 
Thirdly, this evening service with all its gifts and fruits was clearly a once in a lifetime, maybe even a once in a century, moment, and was a stunningly beautiful and powerful event to be part of. We learn from Pope Francis, as candles were lit around the shining icon he blessed and censed, that perfect love casts out fear, like light dispelling shadows. The Pope was clearly present as the chief pastor of Rome as a whole, because he was commemorating with the parish their 200th anniversary. This is the first ever visit of a Pope to any local Anglican parish - the papal visits to Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral were national events with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Pope Francis was there last night as the Bishop of Rome (alongside the Anglican Bishop of Europe, Robert Innes and his suffragan David Hamid who has responsibility for Italy).
 
Once again experienced the power of the truth we learn from the living word of God: “ God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of self- control”. 2 Timothy 1 :7. These words may well have been written, just under two thousand years ago, underneath the site of the Anglican Centre in Rome, where Paul is thought to have been kept under house arrest, and where the kernel of the Timothy letters were conceived. What better foundation could we build on in this mission which we are so privileged to share in at this kairos time.
 
Fr Jonathan Boardman is to be congratulated along with the All Saints' community for their great vision and creative hospitality.

*The text in Italian reads as follows:
Nel nord dell’Argentina ci sono le missioni anglicane con gli aborigeni e le missioni cattoliche con gli aborigeni, e il Vescovo anglicano e il Vescovo cattolico di là lavorano insieme, e insegnano. E quando la gente non può andare la domenica alla celebrazione cattolica va a quella anglicana, e gli anglicani vanno alla cattolica, perché non vogliono passare la domenica senza una celebrazione; e lavorano insieme. E qui la Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede lo sa. E fanno la carità insieme. E i due i Vescovi sono amici e le due comunità sono amiche.

... Loro non negoziano la fede e l’identità. Quell’aborigeno ti dice nel nord Argentina: “Io sono anglicano”. Ma non c’è il vescovo, non c’è il pastore, non c’è il reverendo… “Io voglio lodare Dio la domenica e vado alla cattedrale cattolica”, e viceversa.
The full text of Pope Francis' homily and answers can be found by clicking here.

David Moxon, 27/02/2017

23 comments:

Father Ron said...

Deo Gratias! This attendance by the reigning Roman Pontiff gives hope to many Anglicans and Roman Catholics around the world, that Pope Francis is the new advocate of Unity in Christ.

Despite our differences, this elemental recognition of episcopal oversight shared between Anglican and Roman bishops in various places of the world by no less that Pope Francis; and the recognition by resident Anglicans that Francis is the Bishop of Rome says a great deal about the 'hands on' policy of this particular Pontiff.

"Where charity and love are; there is God" - this antiphonal sentence will be chanted again by Anglican Roman Catholics during the common celebrations of Holy Week - recognising the common theme.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, I am presuming that R. C. Nick looks at all post on ADU and likes to have his say on our political and spiritual adventures in the Anglican Church. I wonder what Nick thinks about this initiative of Pope Francis - being the first reigning Pontiff to visit the (Anglican) Church of All Saints in Rome - where H.H. proceeded to outline the degree of cooperation that exists in places like Argentina between Anglican and Roman bishops on matters of joint mission. No doubt this initiative of Pope Francis would come under the title of events in the Catholic Church as being the work of "The God of Surprises".

Glen Young said...


I also wonder what he thinks of the Pope's statement that there is no such thing as Muslim terrorism ???

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; in some respects this historic visit is unremarkable. Catholics and Anglicans at the Cathedrals in my diocese have been sharing Ash Wednesday and Good Friday together for many years; often with episcopal attendance. The special significance of the Pope's visit is that he was visiting Christians who worship in his diocese. There is a particular bond perhaps most clearly seen in the Chancellor kissing the Pope's ring. This was obviously a special time and I'm not quite sure whether Fr Ron expects me to have Council of Trent disgust! Obviously Christians ignore labels where labels no longer matter. This happens where belief is very similar. In that respect evangelicals are arguably closer to Catholics than Anglo Catholics, though to be frank, I try in vain to work out what ACs actually believe.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Indeed, Nick, the Pope's visit is entirely in line with our shared Catholic-Anglican Ash Wednesday service last night, where a most acceptable (spiritual, gospel, Scriptural) sermon was preached by the Administrator of the Catholic Diocese.*

*PS Nick, when next talking with the Holy Father, perhaps you could put a word in for the Chch Diocese who are eagerly awaiting their new bishop ... :)

Father Ron said...

From his remarks, it might be thought that Nick is more 'Catholic' than the Pope - one of the 'super-spiritual' Pope Francis spoke of at Ogni Sancti in Rome.


The faith of Anglo-Catholics, Nick, is traditional 'catholick and apostolick - just like that of His Holiness; Christ-centred.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, Fr Ron's comments don't relate to anything I said with the exception of Anglo Catholicism. NZ Anglo-Catholicism is hard to follow and that must be relevant to ecumenism.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,

Just curious-- what in Anglo-Catholic belief do you find hard to understand?

Bowman Walton

Jean said...

Great to hear of this and read the Pope's words. Perhaps not now among all but certainly an opening towards all Christ centred churches being vehicles for the gospel of truth; a more powerful witness than churches divided.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bowman; a pleasure to talk to you. Dominus tecum.

NZ Anglo-Catholicism might not be the same as English or American. In fact, I have never been to an Anglo-Catholic parish, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere. I suspect Fr Ron is one voice in a rich rather too vast AC spectrum. But, for me, chasubles, candles, numbers of buttons on a cassock, incense, the odd suggestion of a prayer to Mary and not chewing the wafer are meaningless if there is no real sacrifice of the mass. Sacrifice is the key Catholic word. I cannot tell whether ACs ( if even uniform) believe in the sacrifice of the mass ie a real sacrifice. To be clear, I have no issue at all with Geneva views as valid views. They might be right.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick; I have enjoyed your comments here.

"I cannot tell whether ACs ( if even uniform) believe in the sacrifice of the mass ie a real sacrifice. To be clear, I have no issue at all with Geneva views as valid views. They might be right."

Perhaps we should divide this into two questions: is there a sacrifice?; do Anglican Catholics believe it?

A Lutheran systematician, Robert Jenson, succinctly answers the first--

"If indeed Roman Catholicism ever taught that the Eucharist repeats or supplements the sacrifice of Calvary, or that my participation in the Eucharist can placate God, it does so no longer. Reformation believers are thus free to acknowledge the obvious: as our act, of course the Eucharist is a sacrifice. For the most direct and comprehensive definition of the admittedly equivocal word *sacrifice*, is that a sacrifice is a prayer offered not only with words but with things and actions embodying the words, and that is what the Supper plainly is.

"...It was the teaching of the ancient catholic church, that at the Supper the church somehow *offers* Christ to the Father. Can this truly be said? I think it can and must be. For there is one last thing to be noted about some of the accounts of that farewell Supper: when the elements are promised to be the embodiment of Christ among us, they are named as 'body and blood.' Christ’s embodied presence is evoked in the words appropriate to a sacrificed animal in the Temple, whose blood was poured out from its body. Thus it is as his crucified self that Christ gives himself to us at the Supper; it is as the one sacrificed once for all on Calvary that Christ is available to us by bread and cup. But it is because this very bread and cup are there and taken into our act of thanksgiving, that the thanksgiving to the Father is *sacrifice* and not merely verbal prayer. Must one not therefore indeed say, with many ecumenical documents, that at the Supper the church is swept up into and taken along actively in Christ’s self-sacrifice to the Father? If the bread and cup are Christ’s sacrificed body, and if we offer them, what do we offer?

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

"...Recent ecumenical dialogue has recovered an in itself obvious point: that if it were not for the exhortations of the Pastoral Epistles there would be no such churchly rite as *ordination*, and that therefore it is to the Pastorals that we must first look to understand the rite. By these canonical writings, and by the most ancient tradition of the church, the dialogues have then been led to see that the central image of the ordained minister must be that of the *pastor*, that is, of the shepherd. And taking that image more seriously than some theology of ministry has done, they have thus come to understand that the ordained ministry is fundamentally a ministry to the unity of the church, as the ministry of the shepherd who gathers the flock and struggles against its tendency to scatter. And thereupon ecumenical dialogue has rediscovered why it is that an ordained member of the congregation must be the host at the Supper. For the supper is precisely that communion, that mutual and binding unity of the congregation, to the tending of which persons are ordained. It is the congregation’s pastor, its shepherd, who must take round the first course of the Supper, the bread, so as to recognize sheep of this flock and admit them to the fold. It is the congregation’s pastor who must call the flock together in thanksgiving, by uttering the prayer. “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” the pastor says, and it is he/ she and no other who must say it.

"...The God-imposed mandate of ecumenism is indeed the restoration of that unity of the church for which our Lord prayed, and which in his prayer he made the very gift of the church; we cannot evade the matter by evoking an alleged invisible unbroken unity. For the communion of the Supper is the communion of the church, and when congregations who must recognize one another as the church nevertheless cannot share celebrations and communicants, the unity of the church is in fact broken, hard as it may be for us to admit the enormity of what our unfaithfulness has done or impossible as it may be to understand how the church’s unity can be broken. There can be nothing more important, than that the communion of the Supper be made whole."

This was taken from Jenson's Large Catechism, a devotional publication of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau available on Amazon Kindle. He explains his views more fully in his Systematic Theology, Volume II--

https://tinyurl.com/hg7y6cs

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

Now I realise that a Lutheran is not an Anglo-Catholic, and that for that matter, Robert Jenson is an uncommonly ecumenical Lutheran. But it seemed prudent to let the obvious be pointed out by a Protestant student of Karl Barth admired by at least some Anglican evangelicals up here.

So then, on to the second question: do thinking Anglo-Catholics also see what thinking confessional Lutherans see? When they have come to some integrated view of theology, yes. Both the Thomist stream exemplified by Eric Mascall, and also the less-rooted stream exemplified by John Macquarrie recognise that the eucharist is a sacrifice.

https://tinyurl.com/zwo9u8u

https://tinyurl.com/h8ro272

https://tinyurl.com/zm6n864

However, I have also met a third sort of Anglo-Catholic whose theological views are decidedly less well integrated with his practice. Despite their dependence on Reformed habits of thought, these Anglicans have fled from Reformed theology that disgusts them without mastering a better tradition and bringing their practise in line with it. They generally know that it is alright to speak of eucharistic sacrifice, but they are seldom moved to do so. The *liberal Catholics* that I have met in TEC are often of this last variety.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron said...

Thanks, bowman, for your words expressed here on the relative merits of Anglican and Lutheran theological understanding of the Eucharist.

For Nick's sake, I quote here from the modern English Prayer Book these words said by the priest in the prayer of consecration:

"Therefore, heavenly Father, we remember his (Christ's) offering of himself made once for all upon the cross, and proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension. As we look for his coming in glory, we celebrate with this bread and this cup his one perfect sacrifice.

Accept through him, our great high priest, this OUR sacrifice of thanks and praise; and as we eat and drink these holy gifts in the presence of your divine majesty, renew us by your Spirit, inspire us with your love, and unite us in the body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through him, and with him, and in him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, with all who stand before you in earth and heaven, we worship you, father almighty, in songs of everlasting praise."

RESPONSE: "Blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever. Amen.'

If this does not recognise the sacrifice of Christ 'made once for all upon the Cross' - then has my priesthood over the last 36 years been in vain.

After all Scripture reports Jesus saying:"This IS my Body; this IS my Blood"
That's good enough for me and the congregation with whom I worship.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I hope the worth of priesthood is measured in terms of obedience to Christ and not in terms of whether we find our eucharistic ministry does or does not measure up to what others believe!

I am a little surprised that your post above misses the point at stake here: which is not to do with whether Christ has offered a sacrifice (of himself) - all agree he had; nor to do with whether we may and should offer a sacrifice of praise in thanks for his sacrifice - all agree we may and should (as taught in Hebrews); but to do with what we understand the president at the eucharist may or may not being doing in relation to Christ's sacrifice.

Is he or she reoffering that sacrifice? Or re-presenting that one sacrifice which is eternally offered to the father? (And, can the president of the eucharist be reckoned as doing this if (e.g.) a woman rather than a man, ordained irregularly or invalidly because "out of sorts" with a particular understanding of succession from the apostles?)

I am also surprised that you should offer the above words as indicative of an Anglo-Catholic understanding of the eucharistic sacrifice since they are words I entirely agree with as an evangelical! If the words you cite above are the whole of Anglo-Catholic understanding why on earth or on heaven are the words from the Roman Mass re the priest's sacrifice being acceptable to God ADDED into the Anglo-Catholic eucharist at SMAA if an ordinary Anglican prayer book understanding is sufficient for an A-C eucharistic theology?

So, I rejoice that you and I have common understanding of the eucharist but I am slightly surprised that you do not go further as an Anglo-Catholic in a Roman direction!

Anonymous said...

Hi All; I'm overdue to reply. I intend to and have read Bowman's comments several times lest I miss something.

Nick

Brian Kelly said...

A few quick comments.
1. Whatever Jenson says or seeks to gloss over, Roman Catholicism (at least in its Tridentine form) *has* historically affirmed that the Mass is the re-offering of the Sacrifice of Calvary: what happened at Calvary 'bloodily' is now re-enacted 'bloodlessly' (those were the very words of my Catholic education). This the point of trans-substantiation.
2. I do not know what Luther would think of Jenson's convoluted explanation of what the Eucharist is but at the very least it sounds anachronistic. In the 20th century Anglo-Catholics, influenced by 'incarnationist theology' which claimed that the church is 'the extension of the incarnation' (using the biblical metaphor of the Body of Christ) came up with the dubious (to me, at least) slogan for the eucharist: 'The Whole Christ offers the Whole Christ to God'. I never understood why the church should go on 'offering Christ to God' when Christ had done this already - a point made expressly by the 'ephapax' of Hebrews and explicitly by the BCP ('his one offering of himself once offered').
3. 20th century Anglicanism, influenced strongly by Anglo- or Liberal Catholicism, took refuge in studied ambiguity in words. Thus the words "Accept through him, our great high priest, this our sacrifice of thanks and praise" insert the grammatically clumsy word "this" (to what does this epideictic word refer?), while the language of 'sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving' is moved from its logical place in the BCP (at the end of the service: i.e., our grateful response to CHRIST'S Sacrifice of himself) and inserted into the Eucharistic memorial prayer. Even Anglo-Catholics understood (as Newman did after Tract XC) that their Eucharistic beliefs could not be sustained by the BCP.

Brian Kelly said...

"Or re-presenting that one sacrifice which is eternally offered to the father?"

These are words that have never made much sense to me. 're-present' means to 'repeat', to do again.

1.The Bible is clear that Christ's sacrifice is *not repeated.
2. 'eternally offered to the Father' doesn't ring true either with the Bible. The Bible always speaks of Christ's sacrifice as historical not 'eternal', using aorist (e.g. Heb. 1.3, Rom 3.25 etc). Further, the church does not 'offer' the sacrifice of Christ; God does so (Rom 3.25) and the church merely receives.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; your NZPB at p423 says "Accept our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving". This seems more protestant than the modern C of E version quoted by Fr Ron, but I note that you accept the C of E version regardless. Now, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving (1359) but is a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross (1366). The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice; the same Christ who offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner (1367). So, Brian is correct on the Catechism, but Bowman may be right on what ACs believe, judging by Fr Ron's response to Bowman. I return to the start and think that ACs and evangelicals are closer on sacrifice than I had thought.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
At the least A-Cs are different to evangelicals when they add in words from the Roman Mass to an Anglican eucharist, especially words about "sacrifice" which align the presumed action being undertaken with re-presentation of Christ's one sacrifice.

When A-Cs do not add such words into the Anglican eucharistic prayer then, yes, it would be difficult to tell who was who in Anglican spectral theology!

Anonymous said...


Nick, at the risk of further puzzling you, three observations.

First, beware: I cannot reduce the opinions of Anglo-Catholics with whom I have discussed this in depth to fewer than three (3) views. Hence my typology in which different sorts of A-Cs in the present-day TEC etc are inspired, however incongruously, by eg St Thomas, John Macquarrie, and Richard Hooker. (Of course, if ACANZP has other major variations, I would be intrigued to know of them.) So the links above are important, even if others ignore them.

Second, in sorting out Protestant eucharistic *theologies*-- as distinct from *pieties*-- Chalcedon matters more than Rome. In the formative C17-18, Protestant churches by law established settled their eucharistic (and ecclesiological) understandings, not only with respect to transubstantiation, but also in terms of their contrasting understandings of Act V of the Council of Chalcedon. Believe it or not, their debates about that topic were even more heated than our debates here about That Topic.

Here one cannot help but unfairly reduce oceans of ink to slogans, subtle theologians to caricatures. Lutherans argued that Christ's divinity was necessarily present wherever his humanity was, and denied that those who thought otherwise in fact confessed the coming of the Son in the flesh. *Neque logos extra carnem, neque caro extra logon.* Calvinists countered with the snappier *Finitum non capax infiniti*, and suggested that those who thought otherwise were idolators. This long and often intemperate controversy was arguably the first in which Protestants began to see that snarkily text-clobbering opponents into submission was not an adequate mode of theological argument. With respect to the Church of England, one can already see development past this in Richard Hooker's interesting and irenic evaluation of the rival positions in his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.

Third, we must distinguish tribalism from tradition. As you may have noticed yourself, persons for whom some opinion-tribe functions as an ego defense treat every new controversy that comes as a new threat to their tribe. In politics... In religion, the same reflex leads some otherwise fine Protestants and Orthodox to understand their quite sophisticated traditions in terms of a much cruder anti-Romanism. On dozens of matters, they do not know who they are or what they think apart from the reactive rule--

If Rome teaches X, I must believe not-X.

Deprive them of this reflex and they are lost. And until recently, their Catholic counterparts defined themselves just as crudely over against Protestants, Orthodox, and often the Second Vatican Council. But to understand anything ecumenically, one must first know one's own tradition more broadly and positively, and then must listen to other traditions with more curiosity and less fear. The Holy Spirit will grant this gift to anyone wise enough to pray for it.

The CoE's Reformedish-yet-Lutheran-tolerant position in this controversy was the original *via media*. Fatefully, the later Tractarians who became Anglo-Catholics chose, not to reclaim and develop this tradition, but to recast Rome in the place of Augsburg. This reframing enabled a stronger defense against Erastian excesses and captured the Romantic imagination, but it also fatefully polarised Anglican churches into anti-Roman evangelicals and pro-Roman A-Cs, and created a place for a new liberal tribe to mediate the two poles. In our own day, the liberals who once mediated as neutrals have became a pole in themselves, and there is no centripetal force to mediate their conflict with evangelicals. That, in a nutshell, is the crisis that faces Anglicans today.

The problem is: Anglican theology is inescapably ecumenical, but Anglican churches have unscripturally indulged their tribalists. Today we have two estranged tribes sitting in the shade of the same tree. No theological topics better illustrate this pathology in Anglicanism than the eucharist and ecclesiology.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

On anamnesis, this from a classically rich exposition by ++ Anastasios of Tirana, Durres and All Albania--

Anamnesis does not simply refer to the past. It makes present the past and the future. Being a return into the centre of our consciousness, of the work of him "who is and who was and who is to come" (Rev. 1:8), the eternal and timeless, anamnesis supersedes classical categories of created time. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor. 11:26). "Remembering... the second glorious coming" (Liturgy of St John Chrysostom) opens our horizon to the eschata, to what is coming. In the eucharist, the events to come are named "already completed", because Christ, who is "the offerer and the offered", "is above space and time and of the characteristics of the created things" (Clement of Alexandria). This opens our souls towards the end of the world, when all things will be recapitulated in Christ (Eph. 1:9-12).

https://tinyurl.com/zlb7ebt

His work to revive Christianity among atheists and Muslims in Albania is interesting--

https://www.fordham.edu/download/downloads/id/2070/anastasios_lecture.pdf

On the perfective aspect of verbs--

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfective_aspect

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

On the related topic of eucharistic presence, again, Robert W. Jenson's Large Catechism (Kindle Locations 1002-1032)--

But now again, how can it be true that the bread and cup are Christ’s body and blood? The fundamental answer is that the bread and wine of the Supper are Christ’s body and blood because he promises that they shall be, and because what he says must be true, since he is Creator. But the church has rightly never desisted from the effort to think this mystery: not to dispel it, but to know it. Clearly, the first step must be to ask: What is a person’s “body,” as the New Testament uses the word? What is the import of the predicate in “This is my body?” Analysis at least of Paul’s usage is not difficult, and yields: a person’s body is simply that person him/ herself, insofar as he/ she is available to others— and so also to her/ himself. Were I, in Paul’s sense, suddenly to be disembodied before one of my classes, the point would be that I ceased to be accessible to them, that they could no longer get at the source of the subjectivity intruding on them, that I might perhaps still impact them, but that they could not direct a retort. To say that Christ’s body is present as the bread and cup is therefore to say that these indisputably available things, the bread and cup, are his availability: that where they are present he not only has us before him but allows us to have him before us, not only touches us but allows us to touch him, not only sees us but allows us to see him. It is to say that as these things he— in the language of the church— gives himself to us as an object of our experience. “Do you seek me?” he says, “Here is the place to look.” Of course, if the risen Christ is in some other place called “heaven,” we may still ask, “How does he get from there to our church’s altar?” . . . Luther and his conceptually less abashed followers were led by their faith in the Supper to deny that heaven is any other place than the places of Jesus’ eucharistic body and blood, to deny that there is any spatial separation to overcome between the embodied Jesus *in heaven* and the loaf and cup on the altar.

All the created universe, the old Lutherans finally said, is simply one place before God, and so also before the risen Jesus at “God’s right hand.” The question of Christ’s bodily presence at the Supper is therefore not a question of getting from one place to another but of availability to us in the places where he chooses to be found and directs us to seek him. All places are one in their accessibility to him. But that is to say, that the risen Christ’s place on the altar— or his place between my fellow believer and me, or at the hand stretched for a cup of water— is all the place he needs to take up. And that is finally to say, Christ’s embodiment as the body that is the church and as the body in the church is all the body he needs. There is no other body of Christ, to have to be transported to or supernaturally identified with the loaf and cup— or with the sound of the preacher or the hand that washes the initiate or with the mutual sight of the gathered believers. The author of Colossians meant it: ". . .in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church . . ." (1: 17-18).

Bowman Walton