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December 1, 2006

U2Charist

So, I just heard about this but apparently many Episcopal churches have been having what is commonly know as a U2Charist (U2 + Eucharist) and like many of you my first thought was… “What the heck is a Eucharist?” Basic answer – it’s communion. But for those not familiar with Communion, that’s the part of the Christian service where we partake of some bread and wine in remembrance Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. Now in Roman Catholic circles, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine becomes the blood of Christ (Transubstantiation) while in Reformed circles, the bread and wine (or grape juice) is more symbolic where Christ’s actual presence penetrates to the heart of the believer more nearly than food swallowed with the mouth can enter in (pneumatic)

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Anglicans/Episcopalians generally and officially believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but the specifics of that belief range from transubstantiation, sometimes with Eucharistic adoration, to something akin to a belief in a “pneumatic” presence, which may or may not be tied to the Eucharistic elements themselves

So what is a Eucharist?

In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA), the Eucharist is designated as the principal service of the Church. The service for Holy Eucharist is found in the Book of Common Prayer for each national church in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church holds the Eucharist as the highest form of worship, the Church’s main service. Daily celebrations are now the case in most cathedrals and many parish churches, and there are few churches where Holy Communion is not celebrated at least once every Sunday. The nature of the ritual with which it is celebrated, however, varies according to the churchmanship of the individual parish.

Many Reformed Christians, particularly those who follow John Calvin, hold that Christ’s body and blood do not come down to inhabit the elements, but that “the Spirit truly unites things separated in space” (Calvin).

Calvin also specifically rejected adoration of the Eucharistic bread and wine as “idolatry”. Leftover elements may be disposed of without ceremony (or reused in later services); they are unchanged, and as such the meal directs attention toward Christ’s bodily resurrection and return.

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