On the eve of World Communion Sunday, I find myself reflecting on what it means to live eucharistically instead of settling for what might be described as spiritual fast-food.
In my own discipleship, I must confess that, in the hyperactivity of the daily journey, I too often settle for the fast-food of a Facebook comment, a hasty e-mail response, or an abbreviated text message instead of making time for the “broken bread” of a more personal and incarnational interaction.
I too often settle for the fast-food of a hastily muttered invocation instead of investing myself in the sustained bread-breaking of authentic and attentive prayer.
I too often settle for the fast-food of quickly-voiced sarcasm instead of honoring someone with the holy bread of sensitive silence.
I am not suggesting that there isn’t a place for spiritual fast-food. (Where would we be, after all, without periodic “drive thru’s” in the life of prayer and discipleship?) If spiritual fast-food becomes the norm, however, instead of an occasional option, then our spiritual diet becomes something less than healthy and holistic. I have a feeling that anyone who reads these words will understand precisely the reality that I am describing.
I have no easy remedies to offer. But, for what they are worth, I offer three liturgical components that I have utilized in both corporate and individual worship over the last couple of years. The first component is a call to worship. The second component is a prayer of confession. And the third component is what I have entitled “A Shared Commitment to Eucharistic Living.” I pray that these prayerful words will be of some help to you as you celebrate Eucharist tonight and tomorrow and as you go forth from the Lord’s table in order to live eucharistically in a world that often prefers fast-food.
Call to Worship
Leader: In a world of fast food, we hunger for the One who is the Bread of Life.
People: In our spiritual dryness, we thirst for the One who brings living water.
Leader: Come, Lord Jesus, satisfy the deepest hunger of your people!
People: Come, River of Life, and quench the thirst of our waiting souls!
Prayer of Confession
Eternal God, in a country where food is often consumed quickly and thoughtlessly, we confess that, all too often, we fail to live by the thankful and Eucharistic spirit that Christ makes possible. Instead of developing a healthy diet of prayer and worship, we often prefer the fast food of “how to” literature and “quick fix” conferences. Instead of partaking of the nourishment of authentic community, we often choose the fast food of spiritual self-reliance. Instead of gathering at the banquet table of your grace, we often stuff ourselves with the fast food of superficial busyness. Forgive us, God. Liberate us from an idolatry of fast food, that our entire life might become a thanksgiving feast, offered to the living Christ, in whose name we pray.
Words of Pardon and Assurance
Leader: Hear the good news: Christ is both the living water and the bread of life! When we come to him with a penitent heart, he will nourish us with the good food of his forgiveness and redeeming grace. In Christ, we are forgiven and free.
People: In Christ, we are forgiven and free. Thanks be to God!
A Shared Commitment to Eucharistic Living
(prayed in unison)
Almighty and everlasting God, in your grace, we will live eucharistically by allowing the Lordship of Jesus Christ to hold redemptive authority over every portion of our life and ministry.
We will live eucharistically by allowing the Holy Spirit to prevent us from becoming cynical, hateful, or bitter in any circumstance.
We will live eucharistically by occupying even the nooks and crannies of our life with prayer, so that our whole day becomes an extended dialogue with you.
We will live eucharistically by daring to be prophetic amidst injustice or untruth.
We will live eucharistically by following Jesus with such passion and devotion that people will no longer be in doubt concerning who occupies the throne of our heart.
We will live eucharistically by refusing to become provincial about our portion of the church’s ministry.
We will live eucharistically by experiencing community wherever it is to be found and by abandoning the illusion of self-reliance.
We will live eucharistically by loving you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, so that there is no room left in our life for other “deities.”
We will live eucharistically by feasting on Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, instead of gorging ourselves on the the tempting and transitory things that the world often places before us.
We are yours, O God, and yours alone. Bring us into alignment with who you created us to be, that the entirety of our life might be nourished by a eucharistic spirit rather than a fast food mentality. We ask this in the name of the One who is the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.