Isn’t She Beautiful?: The Living Eucharist

Bell opened his 9:00 session briskly – I think this is the best way to describe it – efficiently saying “open your Bibles to Colossians 2.” He’s very direct and challenging – I love it. Oh, and Bibles are handed out while scripture verses are referred to on the screens (see right) and it’s up to you to turn to the verse. It’s awesome – don’t go to Mars Hill if you want to be lazy.

The stage at MarsTalk about being blown away.

To the exciting stuff: he discussed the idea of the “living Eucharist”. This idea stems first and foremost from the Eucharist that we are called to take part in by Christ Himself. The word, literally, means “thanks for gifts”. It is in the partaking of His body and His blood that we receive the Eucharist from God and are rejuvenated, literally reborn. I love how director David Fincher puts it in his movie – from Chuck Palahniuk’s book of the same name – called Fight Club:

This was my church. Every evening I died, and every evening I was born again. Babies don’t sleep this well.

(Narrator leaving a self-help group meeting, loosely copied from memory, emphasis mine)

In the church, then, we are referred to as Christ’s body – we are to, in turn, be a gift unto the world as Christ is a gift unto us all. We are to bring the Eucharist to them – to be a living Eucharist. We see this theme throughout various parts of scripture:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (emphasis mine, NASB)

We are the living Eucharist to the world, here to be broken and poured out for the sake of others. And this means there is a cost – the same way we benefit in life when Christ gives His body, His Eucharist to us, others gain when we give them ours. This is why, Bell suggests (and I agree) that those in ministry experience an exhaustion that isn’t graspable outside of ministerial work.

There is a supernatural weight to church leadership your friends who sell insurance don’t understand. Your work has an extra gauge on your dashboard. It is the weight of Eucharist. You carry a certain weight of the bride of Jesus. Unless you’ve carried it you don’t understand.

Rob Bell, “Isn’t She Beautiful?” (hastily copied by me)

Tim and Trent When he drives home on Sundays after services he describes his bones as being tired. It’s a kind of exhaustion not many experience – and it’s because anytime someone says “I really got something from that” or “That really spoke to me” – someone gave. Someone had to give for them to gain.

When we give we must receive, otherwise we will burn out. Or we will waste the time of our congregation by slacking. Or we will figure we have “lost it”. This is why Sabbath is so important, especially for pastors. Bell describes pastors who don’t take any of their vacation time as stupid. He suggests giving the time to “the smart people”. He then went on to say how he regularly sets down rules (both as standards and guides for himself) about how he will have dinner with his family every night, how he will enjoy Sabbath every Saturday, and how his family comes before everything else. It was very inspiring.

Bell said one thing this morning that perfectly describes this specific burning I have felt for a time, and though I have tried at vocalizing it, it never quite came out the way I wanted it to. He first told the story of Simon the sorcerer from Acts chapter eight. His interactions with Philip regarding the spirit are interesting: go read it. Simon asks Philip how much it would cost him to gain the ability to bless people and heal and, generally speaking, bring the Holy Spirit to people. And Philip laughs in his face.

What’s the message of this story? What truth can we grab? It seems that this spirit – call it the Eucharist – can not be purchased. (Some of you who know me already know where I’m going.) The Eucharist, as Bell describes it, “must be wrestled with to discover what it would look like in your area; you already intuitively know.” Remember, the Eucharist is the giving of one’s self. When thought of this way, it does make sense why it can’t be commodified. It makes sense why it can’t be purchased on desperate pastor dot com. It makes sense why churches can’t take a model from a “working church” (whatever that means, usually just big) and apply it to their situation, in their town. It makes sense why those churches fail. It makes sense. It makes a lot of sense.

I don’t want to take the easy way out. I want to ask the hard questions and face the tough situations – what does it look like to be a living Eucharist? What would a church like that look like? What would it look like in my area?

If no one is broken open and no one is emptied out no one will be healed.

Rob Bell, “Isn’t She Beautiful?” (hastily copied by me)

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One thought on “Isn’t She Beautiful?: The Living Eucharist

  1. as pire, n. - » Isn’t She Beautiful?: Q&A Session

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