It has been said that the churches of the Christian West, our Anglican Church included, have tried to establish the meaning and practice of the Eucharist by looking to the past, back at the teaching and practice of Jesus and the apostles. Much ink and, so very sadly, much blood have been spilt in the debate about how and what Jesus did and intended. In this view, the Eucharist is an enactment and experience of what Jesus did long ago.
It has also been said that the Eastern church has avoided the controversies of the West by looking instead to the future. The focus here is on the Book of Revelation and the teaching of the early church elders on what Christ will bring in the Second Coming. The Eucharist’s meaning and practice are shaped by the marriage supper of the lamb in the world to come. The Eucharist is an enactment and experience of what Jesus will do in the future.
What happened in the past teaches, inspires and guides us, but there is much truth to be discovered and displayed in the future God has promised us in Jesus. The Eucharist is the first moment of the New Creation, a new heaven and a new earth. It is more than a positive expression of our hope. It transforms what we see and do in the here and now. God’s future is breaking into time, our church community, through this ceremony that Jesus gave us. As a foretaste of the world to come, it calls us to live God’s future now, in peace, in justice, in love. In a world like ours, there is no more urgent task.