Thursday, March 28, 2013

Transubstantiate Everything

On my early morning constitutional walk with my dog, the air was still sharp and brisk, a reminder of how slow Spring has been in coming this year.  But the skies were beautiful, dappled with the colors of the rising sun.  The robins were hopping about worm-hunting, and the trees were pushing their buds outwards towards the hope of summer sun.

As I turned a bend, the light from the morning was just beginning to touch the tops of the trees on a nearby hillside.  The world felt bright and new and alive.

This mingled with the theology bouncing around in my brain.  Tonight at my little church, we're planning to have a simple meal together.  It's an Agape Meal, which sounds considerably less R-rated than a Love Feast.   Why are we having this meal?  Because it's Maundy Thursday, that day we remember that meal Jesus asked us to share with one another.

Being a Teaching Elder and all, I use the start of the meal to talk through some of the ways we disciples of Jesus have tried to understand what he meant by what he was saying.   I play my way through Lutheran sacramental union, Zwinglian humanist mnemonics and Calvin's pneumatological eucharistics, mostly because when I use those words they tend to take a loud room and stun it"reverent and prayerful silence."

But as I've studied the ways Christian homo sapiens sapiens have tried to articulate the importance of this event, I find that all of our disparate approaches kinda sorta work.   Even transubstantiation has a voice.  Yeah, it's an old Aristotelean way of looking at things.  But the intent isn't bad.  It's a valiant philosophical effort.  It says, somehow, something important is happening here.   Somehow, in these humble things, there lies the ineffable possibility of the fullness of what Jesus taught.

Oh, you could pick it apart forever and never find that hidden reality.  Every observable state of that hunk of challah or that cup of Welches Concord Grape Juice would not get you to it.

But that reality is there nonetheless.

Walking through the waking creation this morning, I found myself musing that Eucharist...that "good gift" meant to be how we see the entirety of our world.  The words "Transubstantiate Everything" rose up unbidden out of my subconscious, and it struck me a lovely way to conceptualize the Kingdom.

If we understood it, if we got it, if we registered it, we would encounter everything as suffused with the essential nature of our Creator.