Alexa Wallace shares with us insights from her own present MDiv studies in Saskatoon. She explores the gifts inherent in the practice of spiritual communion through the lenses of Cranmer, Aquinas and Augustine and then reminds us – through George Herbert – that “the role of sacraments was to empower Christians to take their ministry out into the world, and to recognize that the entire world belongs to Christ.” Christians discerning how they participate in God’s mission do so locally, explains Emmanuel & St Chad Principal Iain Luke, urging us to lay aside abstract and conceptual ways of considering the eucharist. Communion “is an event which happens in a particular place and time, with particular people, and in some kind of relationship to all the other events going on around it.” What we need is to discover “what it means to be a sacramental people in this context, and in that place.
Chris Brittain, as Dean of Theology at Trinity College Toronto is someone who has been paying attention to local conversations amongst clergy about the cessation of eucharistic worship, and their struggles with their own clerical identity. We are to be homo eucharisticus, he offers, persons defined by communion with God, not by consumption of elements. Meeting the polarized views expressed between eucharist as sacrifice and eucharist as meal, he reminds us “it is only during the gathering of the community of faith around God’s altar that one comes to truly understand the nature of eucharist as sacrifice.”
Many of the papers identify questions and concerns about the role of priests in relation to the eucharist. Only one clearly defines the ecclesiological-sacramental doctrine that it is the bishop’s role to gather the people into the celebration of the eucharist. Bishop William Cliff offers us his ‘bishop’s notes’ on decisions taken at various stages in the pandemic and draws out from the practical theology of practice the theological, pastoral, and liturgical rationale for the diocese’s choices and witness.
John Hill explores the deep connections between our own dinner table and the Lord’s table, and invites us to consider how we might hallow the household meal in ways that respect the distinctions between the two tables, whilst at the same time honouring the gifts of grace present in each.