The feasting, witnessing body of Christ
April 1, 2013
Q. What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his poured-out blood?
A. It means
to accept with a believing heart
the entire suffering and death of Christ
to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
But it means more.
Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us,
we are united more and more to Christ’s blessed body.
And so, although he is in heaven and we are on earth,
we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.
And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit,
as the members of our body are by one soul.
–Q/A 76 from the proposed new translation of the Heidelberg Catechism
I was born in the beautiful Pacific island of Guam. As a Filipino American—Pacific Islander—my family and I love to party, swim, dance, sing, and eat. But not just eat. We feast. Island life is about feasting. Whether neighbor, friend, or stranger, all come to the abundant table. We party until the early morning hours.
We always advise people before attending any of our feasts to prepare their stomachs as well as their mouths, because a lot of eating and talking happens. Life and soul happen. We approach life and living through a sense of abundance. While the party budget might indicate on paper that we can only afford to host 30 people, rarely do only 30 people show up. It’s more like 130, at the very least. When people leave the feast, they are expected to take food home, and to tell their friends and neighbors about the feast, so that they can join the feast the next time.
Although Lent and the Easter feast have now passed, we yet live and serve with the great News that Jesus Christ has risen and is ascended, and through Jesus, God has given the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Even as Christ is fully absent—being seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty—Christ is also fully present through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit unites us to the fullness of God and to the communion of saints—in all times and in all places—the living and the dead, whose hearts and souls forever praise God.
Having been transformed by the Spirit of Jesus Christ on this side of heaven, we are being apprenticed by the Holy Spirit into the ways, will, and work of our Lord. One major way in which this happens is when we feast at the Table of the Lord. It’s no wonder that when the Lord ate with his disciples, the Gospel according to Luke says, “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (24:31a). And even after that feast, the Lord had an additional feast involving broiled fish. (No, Jesus wasn’t a Guamanian, nor a Filipino!). After all these feasts, Jesus says, “You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (24:48–49).
That’s what the church has always been called to be and to do: The feasting, witnessing body of Christ.
Join us for a conversation on that subject—in person or by live web stream—at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, April 23–25. Visit the website for more information.