Receiving the Eucharist on a daily basis is a real treat. Frequent communion is a traditional obligation to be sure for those of us who call ourselves Wesleyan–nothing hinges upon it other than putting ourselves more boldly in Divine Grace’s line of fire. My seminary has made it a point in recent years to begin offering the Eucharist on a daily basis, and this past week was no exception.
On Friday I was returning from my usual breakfast haunt around 11:45 in the morning when I decided I’d turn into the seminary parking lot and make it to the noon mass. Last week was met with a number of challenges in my personal and relational life that I had already brought to the table the day before, so Friday’s eucharist was just gravy; I decided to go anyway even though what I really wanted to do was to go home, unpack my things from moving earlier in the week, and take a nap.
The celebrant, Irene, was from an African country and her English was still thick with a breathy and beautiful African accent. She wasn’t used to serving the UMC Great Thanksgiving, and towards the end she offered the invitation to the table before the Lord’s Prayer had been said. Afterwards in place of the usual postcommunion prayer she simply said “let us do the Lord’s Prayer.”
It was obvious that she meant “let’s say together the Lord’s Prayer” in that context. But what has stuck with me about Friday’s eucharist was the way she bade us to pray: let us do the Lord’s Prayer. God bless English and its auxiliary verbs. What does it mean to do the Lord’s Prayer? To be sure there are a number of different rabbit trails I can chase on this idea, but what strikes me is that, perhaps, to do the Lord’s Prayer is to fulfill the prayer as Our Lord prayed it originally: “let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
It’s a fairly simple connection to make, to be honest. In fulfilling the great commandment and the great commission through our obedience to God, we become the vehicle by which the kingdom of heaven overtakes the kingdom of death, and we become the agents of God’s will on earth as it is worked out in the divine mind. Not that we are puppets, not that we are bondservants, but we become heirs through our incorporation into Christ. We are scions of the family business, and we join our divine Parent in our family’s trade of turning death into life. This is what it is for us to do the Lord’s Prayer.
The other side of this, however, is not quite so obvious. By placing her invitation for us as the gathered community to do the Lord’s Prayer after having received the Eucharist, Irene created a moment where the nourishment of the table was drawn explicitly and inexorably to the life of Christian service to which we who follow Christ are called. The sacrament is food for the journey, bread for the mission, a divine breakfast to fuel a life of walking in the unforced rhythms of grace alongside our Lord. Out of this gracious rhythm comes waves of life-giving love that enables us to see where the will of God should be done and empowers us to make it happen.
The sacrament opens our eyes to the inbreaking of the kingdom of heaven around us and in us. The sacrament constantly converts us, and in converting us so God converts the world through us and embraces his children as the Prodigal Deity, the God who throws a silken robe around us and proclaims that we who were once dead are now alive, we who were once lost are now found, we who were once homeless have come home at last. When we do the Lord’s Prayer we are the servants emptying our Master’s closet of rings and cloaks and lavishing them upon his children who come home.