A Meditation for Benediction
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek
Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, Ellicott City, Maryland
To all who come inside this church, the sign of this candle always burning, the veils always drawn, remind one and all that He is in this place. This is the dwelling place of his body and blood. This is the home of the One who is the Light of the world, the Light of all creation, the true light that enlightens everyone. He is the light that shines in the darkness and which the darkness has not and cannot overcome. In his light we see light. He resides here in His Tabernacle as both guest and host – our guest and our host. Every moment we spend in this place is to be an acknowledgement of His presence among us. The candles we hold today reflect His light.
So on a day such as this one we bring him out for all to see: as a reminder really. A reminder that we cannot keep him in the Tabernacle, we cannot keep him in this place. Rather, he urges us to go out with Him, as Him, as His body in this world, to join him in His ministry to a broken and suffering world. We pray every Sunday to be made into his instruments of healing in this world.
John Macquarrie observes that this wafer reminds us that this material world is one in which God, as its author, uses the things of the world to mediate his presence and grace. “It is the kind of world in which a wafer can be the sign, or perhaps I should say the shrine, of Christ’s presence. Whatever theory of presence one may hold … so long as it remains within the Eucharistic context and the Eucharistic community, that bread is for us the bread that comes down from heaven for the life of the world. And this is not something merely for our contemplation. Christ is not confined to the Eucharistic bread or even to the Church. He is not a ‘prisoner of the tabernacle.
“The Scottish churchman, George Macleod, used to watch the grain ships from Canada and the United States bringing their cargoes of wheat into Liverpool harbour, and he reflected that the wheat has the potentiality of becoming the body of Christ. This is the point where sacramental theology spills over into the market place. Bread is not a mere commodity; things are not bits of matter. We can learn this [elsewhere], but we learn it above all from Jesus Christ, the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John Macquarrie, A Guide to the Sacraments (Continuum, NY:1997) pp. 154-156.
Like the wheat, like this wafer, we are all endowed by our Baptism with the potentiality of becoming the Body of Christ. We are invited to step out of our various tabernacles, tombs, caves, or wherever it is we keep ourselves locked up, and to join with Him in being bread for a broken, suffering and hungry world. As we focus our gaze on Him, may we see ourselves, for in truth this is who we are: His bread, His Body and His light for the world. “His broken body is my broken body upon which others feed. His blood spilled is my blood shed to rejoice the hearts of all. His tomb is mine, and in it others die to rise again.” (Aiden Kavenaugh, “Christ, Dying and Living Still”). Through the mystery of His body and Blood, we become him, he raises us up into the life of his kingdom. His light shines through all we do and say. We cannot keep him in this place. His life was given for the life of the world – the whole world. Amen.