O sacred feast, in which Christ is partaken: recalling the memory of his suffering, our minds are filled with gratitute and a pledge of future glory to us is given.

These are the words of a Latin prose text called O sacrum convivium. 

Today we continue our summer music festival exploring the music of prolific contemporary composers Cecilia McDowall and Stephanie Martin. After today’s sermon, we will hear Stephanie Martin’s musical setting of these words.

We are a community that has gathered once again this week to partake in our sacred feast. We gather around this table, remembering that Christ has drawn us together, and we are filled with a foretaste and expectation of God’s kindom here on earth.

These words align beautifully with our Gospel reading from John. With ears familiar with the Christian Eucharistic tradition, we hear Jesus’ offering his own body as nourishment on which we the community feed and are nurtured.

O sacred feast.

This Cathedral community’s center is our holy table where bread and wine are taken, blessed, broken and shared. 

The table in which we gather around today was gifted to this community in 2004 by Bill and Jean Crockett, who helped envision its design.

For those of you with a lived history of the Cathedral longer than mine, you may recall several other tables - or altars - in this place. It was Bishop Cruickshank, when rector, who moved to a single table. The phrase shared with me: one community, one table.

We are one community, one Body of Christ, who gather around this table day after day, week after week to partake in the sacred feast.

Oh sacred feast in which Christ is partaken…

As an Anglican community, we have many ideas of what happens (or not) to the bread and wine offered. I hold that it is Christ we consume in some way that is beyond anything I can explain. Theologians have spent lifetimes arguing over this point. Some have died over it.

In whatever sense you come to this table, Christ is partaken -- not only the historical Jesus or what is even sometimes called the Cosmic Christ -- but you and I as members of the Body of Christ are also part of that which is broken and poured out to share. 

One community -- one table -- one Body of Christ.

When we share in the one bread, we share Christ who was, who is, and who is yet to come. Our communion is a sharing of ourselves, our souls, and our bodies as the Body.

There is nothing more beautiful for me than to see the single loaf of bread or the single large wafer elevated at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer. With the assistance of the deacon, the priest elevates for all to see the blessed bread and wine. 

Everything comes to this moment.

Elevated for all to see, the congregation says Amen. I do it with a little extra gusto because this is the moment that, after the priest has completed their work, we the people -- all of us who aren’t the priest presiding -- say Amen -- yes! It is done, I believe.

And then, following the prayer taught by Jesus, we break that single loaf of bread. What many of you probably don’t know is that crumbs fall on the table. 

This is a powerful image for me. We are one body in Christ, and we are human.

Again and again, we come to the sacred feast as one body; again and again, our human sin fractures us apart, leaves us in crumbs, and again and again we come as one body. We are in a cycle of renewal in the midst of our own human faults as we participate in the sacred feast. 

O sacred feast … Recalling the memory of Christ’s suffering….

Our participation in the Eucharist goes beyond the now -- it is a cosmic event that binds us to our histories. 

As we gather at this table, we recall all that has happened -- both the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and also the lives of our Christian ancestors -- saints and sinners alike. 

We are members of the same Body that they are members of -- we partake in the one bread and one cup as they did. In recalling Christ’s suffering and our histories as Christian people, we are participants in our past.

This is why we can’t shy away from the difficult conversations that our faith community is called to have. This is why hearing the truth of genocide on the territories we reside and taking steps towards reconciliation is part of our work as members of the body of Christ.

The past isn't just the past in our sacred feast.

O sacred feast … Our minds are filled with gratitude...

As we participate in our sacred feast we give thanks. We call to mind all that we have. All that we have been given. We show our gratitude by giving our own gifts to this community -- our time, our talents, and our treasures. We offer our skills in ministries because we are filled with gratitude for all that we have been given by God. 

We give thanks above all to God who gives and sustains the mystery of life and the universe. Gathering for our sacred feast is an intentional effort to slow down -- to even stop -- pay attention, and express gratitude to the glory of God. 

O sacred feast … A pledge of future glory to us is given...

And finally, in this sacred feast, we look forward. The bread that we eat and the wine that we drink is our nourishment for the future. Everything that we do in this sacred feast prepares us to do the ministry of Christ out there.

It is why I keep returning to the image of the deacon who sends us out into the world. We cannot stay here. We cannot focus on this physical building. We must go out into the world proclaiming the good news that is given to us through Jesus Christ.

Our holy table that gathers us will be here. We will return to it day after day, week after week, but we are not meant to stay at it. As the dining room table in some households gathers family and friends together, our table gathers this family together. But it doesn't keep us here. It nourishes us so that we can go out and live life as Christian people.

O sacred feast…

You are invited to this table -- your table. For those of you watching on the livestream -- come as you are able and ready. Your table awaits at our sacred feast. For those of you gathered here today -- come and partake as we recall our past, feed in the present, and look towards our future.

O sacred feast, in which Christ is partaken: recalling the memory of his suffering, our minds are filled with gratitute and a pledge of future glory to us is given.