On Sunday I will be celebrating Holy Communion at St Michael’s. I don’t usually plan that far ahead for the service. I know the words I will recite, and I will follow the usual liturgy. I don’t exactly do everything by rote, because I find that through the service Jesus always draws near to me powerfully . But I guess I don’t often stop to think how costly and dangerous my actions might be.
On Tuesday July 26th Father Jacques Hamel was murdered while presiding at the Eucharist in a suburb in Rouen – about which our own Archbishop has spoken so clearly. Sadly he is only one in a long line of priests and ministers murdered while celebrating Holy Communion – Oscar Romero is another name which instantly springs to mind.
So this Sunday as I prepare the table I am reminded that what I am doing is remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross where his flesh was broken and his blood poured out. And I am reminded that I too am called to be a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1-2) as I offer myself totally and fully in the service of my master.
Of course as we are all priests within the church of Christ, it is not only the presiding minister who is called to be a living sacrifice. Everyone who bears allegiance to the name of Jesus is called to deny himself and take up his cross and follow him (Luke 9:23).
So here’s my challenge. Cancel whatever else you are doing this Sunday morning. Come and offer yourself at the Lord’s table. And in so doing, express your solidarity with Christ and the suffering church across the world. For this seems to me the only effective response to the random acts of terror we hear about so often: to affirm that no matter what may happen we are not ashamed to bear our cross and to lay down our lives for our Lord and Master. We will carry on proclaiming the good news of His love in a world of hate. And we will be His one body rejoicing in our sufferings in order that one day we may share in His glory (Rom 8:17).
Then at the end of the service we will pray:
we thank you for feeding us
with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.
Through him we offer you our souls and bodies
to be a living sacrifice.
Send us out
in the power of your Spirit
to live and work
to your praise and glory. Amen.