|Welcome to our Spiritual Practices E-Newsletter|
It's September and as the world around us speeds up at church we're going to try and slow down. Instead of, as we have been doing these past two years, introducing a new spiritual practice each month, we're going to take the next four months and look at the spiritual practice of Communion. I've taken a stab at writing the first newsletter about this practice but I look forward to others also sharing their perspective on this practice in the months to come.
As is noted in the sidebar on Sunday, September 12 we kick off a new year of nursery, Sunday School, youth group and 'Conversations.' We look forward to welcoming those who have been away for the summer and reconnecting.
The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee
Introduction to the Practice
Communion as spiritual practice. The good news is that this is a spiritual practice that you are all familiar with and regular practitioners of. It is the spiritual practice that is at the very centre of our life together as a community. As we look again at the ancient practice we will draw from a new book by Norah Gallagher entitled, The Sacred Meal. This book is part of an eight-part series edited by upcoming Wisdom Centre speaker Phyllis Tickle.
In this book Gallagher makes many excellent points about Communion or, the sacred meal, as spiritual practice. Among the most important is her observation that Communion is perhaps the only spiritual practice that you cannot practice alone. Communion is always communal. It is required that at least two or three people be together for this practice to occur. Moreover, as we join together in this very intimate act of eating and drinking together, something happens. As Gallagher suggests, "Holy Communion [is] a web, a web of people who [are] being stitched together." (p. 6) She reflects on all the various communion services she has been to, large and small, at home and abroad, in her own tradition and language, and in other traditions and languages, and sees the many faces, hands, knees, that were part of those experiences. "There we were, my memory said. You were with them and they were with you. For a moment, you were part of a great web of strangers, drawn on that day to that one place, traveling toward something invisible, just around the corner, something that made us all drop everything else to be there." (xviii)
Earlier this year some of us watched a tele-conference about the Emergent Church in which we were taught that the trick to being a Christian at this time in history is to
1. Show up
2. Pay attention
3. Tell the truth
4. Don't get attached to the results
In a similar vein Gallagher suggests that to engage in a spiritual practice is also to be willing to show up and not get attached to the outcome. "A practice is something we do that is always the same and always different. In the world we live in, we do things over and over so we can get better at them - better at soccer, playing the piano, selling software, things that have measurable scorecards. But that is not what a spiritual practice is." (p. 8)
She speaks of how Communion is always the same and always different. We show up in the hope that "the mind and soul will connect with what is waiting to connect to us." (p. xix) A practice is something we do in the hope and trust that gradually, we will be transformed, we will begin to see the holy, we will be set free from the illusions of this world to see what is really true, what is really alive.
I have no doubt said enough. Over the next few months, as you continue to receive communion, I invite you to see this as a spiritual practice. Notice how this practice engages your body, as you come forward, stand or kneel, open your hands, open your mouth, take in the bread, take in the wine. Notice the hands and faces of those who take communion alongside you, of those who offer you communion. Feel how in some inexpressible and mystical way this practice does indeed stitch us together. Body and soul, neighbours and strangers, visible and invisible, divine and human. All become One.
Trust that this ancient spiritual practice that so many people, in so many places, have celebrated for centuries and continue to celebrate today, is indeed our way of coming close to God so that God may come close to us.
|This month at St. Laurence|
Sunday, September 12
-Nursery, Sunday School, Youth Group and after service 'Conversations' resume. Service to focus on Communion as Spiritual Practice. Confirmation classes begin at 6 pm at Knox Presbyterian.
Tuesday, September 14
- Vestry meeting 7:15 pm
Thursday, September 16
- 9:30 am Contemplative Prayer Service
Sunday, September 26
- Harvest Festival 10 am service followed by turkey lunch in the hall. Please mark the date, sign up to bring food and bring friends and neighbors!