Like myself over the last week I am sure you were absolutely speechless when you saw those scenes of the boat capsizing in the High Seas and the migrants clinging to debris to try and survive and the other pictures showing the half submerged boat in which survivors called out in utter misery and desperation to their rescuers. Your heart would have to be stone not to be deeply moved by what we were seeing. Further to this, short time ago 700 people on one boat lost their lives. These are scenes of utter misery, what we are experiencing in these days is the actions of desperate people driven from their lands by war, by the gross injustice and imbalance in wealth, by tribalism, by acts of unspeakable barbarity. The fires of war are burning and no one seems able to put them out.
Make no mistake, this situation is all linked: the war on terror, the sale of arms, the system which keeps the poor in destitution, the international communities self interest. Its all connected and is the fruit of these many things, some of which we have created.
What we are seeing is people fleeing in desperation for their lives from people who want to do them harm. It’s the accumulation of many problems that have stored themselves up for many years and like so often in human nature its only when it comes to your door, only when it affects you that you address it! Its only when the migrants want to come to our land that we are forced to address it, to listen, to take notice. Our response: we either want to shut the door or to allow it to remain open. By allowing it to remain open, it means you will have to understand why have they have come, what they are fleeing from, who these people are and the pain that is in their lives.
It forces us to address why people are poor - because the cards are stacked against them; why people turn to extremists because legitimate governments or leaders cannot protect them against aggressors; the rage of the poor when they see their indulgent rich neighbours prosper and them go without or have to to struggle for the most basic things.
What would make people want to make such a terrible journey over wide and dangerous terrain? What would make people cross seas in such a hopeless and incredibly perilous flight, to give all their money away to do it, to travel with the old and young and with little of their belongings. What makes them want to do it is the desperate situation they find themselves in, fleeing from wars which have been ignited by others or fanned by others for their own reasons.
We are sleep walking if we don’t realise that this is a critical moment in human history in which 100s of thousands of people are on the move; the pieces are thrown up into the air and where they land will change the course of events. If we close our eyes to all of this we will receive the condemnation of his history and much worse a divine rebuke – I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was a stranger and you didn’t make me welcome, was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink ….when did we see you stranger and not make you welcome, when did we see you hungry and never give you food or thirsty and never give you anything to drink, when you failed to do it to the least of these you did it to me.
To celebrate the Holy Eucharist is to celebrate bread broken for a new world. Its no coincidence that the John’s account of the Eucharist is connected to the washing of the feet of his disciples. Those that receive the Holy Eucharist, they are to act, they are to create something, do something, act in a certain way. You cannot leave the plac of the Eucharist without being impelled to do that . To celebrate the Eucharist doesn’t just mean that the Eucharist sanctifies my breast, or that he becomes our living guest, or that the blood of Christ washes away my sins, or that in his wounds we are hidden. To celebrate the Eucharist is bread broken for a new world. In the feeding of the 5000, he feeds a hungry crowd, in his travels through the villages and towns he cures the sick, in his words he gives a new way of living. He is bread broken for a new world.
To take the bread and cup of the Eucharist is to believe in a new world. A world whose brokeness can be healed ; to believe in a world that isn’t forever ensnared by the horses of the apocalypse war, destitution, hunger and pestilence. It’s a world that is being transformed by the celebration of the Eucharist, that is being made whole by the grace of God.
To celebrate the Eucharist is bread broken for a new world. You come here to believe in this, to create it, to stick up for it, to not give in to despair, to provide answers rather than questions. You come here not just to find an individual sanctification but to make a bold statement for the world, for the sanctification of the world, for a healing for the world, for a better world. You come here to say that you are part of God’s plan for a better world, for a redeemed world for a healed world by the body and blood of Christ.