Friday, October 27, 2006

Elements of Communion - Participation & Richard Hooker

Richard Hooker, (1554-1600), one of the giants of Anglican thought wrote much in his Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity (1593) (read them here!) about "participation." In the Eucharist the gathered community "participates" with God. God has made this a place where the gathered community might "participate" in the divine mystery ... Through this participation, the community is constituted one to another within and because of God, and through this participattion the community is strengthened and transformed by the power and mystery of God.

So, what if we cannot seem to bring ourselves to gather at the table or altar or altar rail? What if we excommunicate ourselves when we choose not to gather together as the people of God, believers in Christ, and through the power of the Spirit? To echo what Steve mentioned in a comment earlier (here), how does this sacramental vision deal with conflict? How do we understand communion when some choose not to gather at the altar? What if some, as a matter of conscience, just cannot bring themselves to gather at the altar?

Can there be a model of communion that both affirms the importance of gathering with a truly diverse people, while also affirms the prophets in the midst who might challenge that unity?

This (in my humble opinion) is the place and the context in which things get very tricky, and also where people feel pain and heartache, loss and betrayal ... communion is one of those ephemeral types of entities that may, indeed, be quite impossible for humankind. "But with God all things are possible." Though it may be difficult to impossible here in this human life, we still strive for it, and we strive to construct a model that might lead us to a fuller understanding and experience of God.

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