By the Rev. Dr. Clay Morris
Certainly, the primary identifying feature of catholic worship is the weekly celebration of the Eucharist. Having spent the week engaging life as Christ’s Body in the world, Christians gather to feed and be fed, so that they can move back into the world to minister to its needs. Just as the congregation is fed with Christ’s Body and Blood, so the world’s hungry are fed by the spiritually nourished Christian community.
The centrality of the Eucharist in the worship life of the community reminds the church and the world that the religious commitment of the Body of Christ is the restoration of wholeness in God’s Creation. It is in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and meeting oppression with justice that one’s Christian obligation is met.
Tinned copper baptismal font from Bulgarian orthodox church
It is curious, then, that those who craft objects to be used in eucharistic worship seem intent on softening or even eradicating the symbolic connection between the experience of worship and the experience of life in the world.
For example, in the Eucharist, a plate and cup are used to hold bread and wine, as one would. But typically, the plates and cups on display look as if they were borrowed from a museum, not from a dining room. The plate and cup are placed on a table. But instead of suggesting, symbolically, a dining table around which people might gather for a meal, the object reminds us of a sarcophagus; a tomb in which someone might be buried.
The baptismal rite is a ritual washing. The New Testament description of Jesus’ baptism locates the ritual in a river. The Gospels’ accounts of his baptism don’t say exactly how water was used. Whether it was poured over his body or he was pushed under the water isn’t clear. What is clear is that the event happened in a river. Read More…