Christ the living bread

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may be nourished by Christ's risen presence]


Everloving God,
your Son Jesus Christ
gave himself as living bread
for the life of the world;
give us such a knowledge of his presence
that we may be strengthened
and sustained by his risen life
to serve you continually;

through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

NZPB p.619b

The Church of England Liturgical Commission composed the following new collect for the 1980 Alternative Service Book for "Easter 1" (the first Sunday after Easter Day):

Almighty Father,
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
      with the sight of the risen Lord:
give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ [your Son] our Lord,
[who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.]

The brackets indicate additions for Common Worship, where it has now been placed as the collect for the third Sunday of Easter (a week later). NZ has altered the collect by shifting the focus to Christ as the living bread. It was placed in NZ's thematic two year lectionary as a collect for the theme "Holy Communion" (along with another collect that will amuse those who use a word other than "wafers" for eucharistic bread - a collect addressed to the "Living host"). The Australian Anglican Church in A Prayer book for Australia has chosen the NZ collect above for this same Year B Sunday (replacing "Everloving" with "Everliving").

There seems a particularly Judaeo-Christian connecting of "bread" and "presence" - excepting, of course, those who hold a theology of the Real Absence - where Christ is present everywhere except in the bread and the wine.

There is much available for reflection as we take up John 6 in Year B. Not least, the integrity of John as a gospel. The Joint Liturgical Group of Great Britain's put forward a Four Year Lectionary which provides a cycle of lessons with one whole year at a time devoted to each of the four gospels. Even if it were better, it now appears too late.

The bread and presence in liturgy can have two nourishing centers: word and sacrament. In fact, some creative contemporary liturgical architecture has the lectern echoing the design of the altar table. Contemporary RC liturgy, and those who follow this lead, use "the Word of the Lord" after the reading in the same manner as "the Body of Christ" in distributing communion. The homily/sermon/address following the readings then becomes a breaking open of scripture in parallel to the breaking of the bread later. The open scriptures in the church, then, are parallel to the Reserved Sacrament.

Lectio Divina is the process that is like partaking of bread: we take the bread in (lectio - hear the Living Word), chew it (meditatio), swallow and digest it (oratio), it becomes part of us and we live it (contemplatio).

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