Franciscan Friar and contemplative Richard Rhor asserts the following: “Divine union, not private perfection, is the goal of all religion.” In that very short statement we can find the heart of our faith walk. Our world is busy chasing many goals and movements to find the perfect way to “do church,” and it stares us in the face. Religion is union with the divine. That union is not found in a series of rules that seek to bring us to a state of personal perfection but in quiet steps that bring us closer to God.
This union with the Divine has to start with prayer that carries us away from the ordinary and allows us to reach for the Divine. Perhaps the best start would be a time of silence when we offer ourselves to God, and remain still long enough for Him to respond.
Union with the Divine is found in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In this Holy Mystery, the Divine comes to us. Countless hours are spent looking for God, and without a doubt, He is present in the sacrament. Do not neglect the concept of frequent communion that is so forcefully expressed by Methodist founder John Wesley for in the practice of this Holy Mystery we find Divine union.
Jesus cries to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. “ Let us make coming to union with the Divine the driving force of our lives.
- The Eucharist (ubiquelucet.wordpress.com)
For centuries Christians have divided, argued, and even fought wars over the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion. For the mystic, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist was essential as it was the way that one ultimately experienced the grace of God. Communion was a time to be united with Christ, and indeed all of Christendom, for a marvelous time of grace. Many Protestants resist the idea of grace through sacrament. Martin Luther, the “Father of the Protestant Reformation,” once said (in rejection of the “Radical Reformers”): “Before I would have mere wine with the fanatics, I would rather receive sheer blood with the pope.”
“The Christian church has struggled through the centuries to understand just how Christ is present in the Eucharist. Arguments and divisions have occurred over the matter. The Wesleyan tradition affirms the reality of Christ’s presence, although it does not claim to be able to explain it fully.” This statement is taken from the United Methodist document on Holy Communion-This Holy Mystery- and it affirms the reality of Christ’s presence in the sacrament.
So much can be missed if we consider Holy Communion a mere memorial. There are none among us who deny that our Lord gave us this Holy Mystery as a way of joining with Him-joining in a way that is so real, so strong that He promised to be with us, not in memory, but reality. As we go forward to discover the real mysteries of true faith in our Lord we must not neglect His promise to be with us in the sacrament of Holy Communion. In my tradition, Mr. Wesley asserted the doctrine of frequent communion. Christians all over the world are beginning to find more and more faith in coming to His table. May each of us approach His table with expectation and leave with His loving presence.