A few years ago when working for Church Mission Society, I visited a slum in south Beirut to deliver aid to Syrian refugees. I met one family, where mum had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl in the early hours; they called her Shams (Arabic for ‘Damascus’). Sham’s extended family of 15 people shared one room.
It was heartbreaking to learn Sham’s mother wasn’t present because she was out begging for food. Yes, just hours after giving birth! Having endured childbirth; her body was ‘broken’, and now she was self-sacrificially out on the streets to provide for her children. Something of this encounter resonated with the ‘new covenant’ Jesus refers to in Luke 22.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed he gave grateful thanks to God, Eucharisteó. Holy Communion is the centerpiece of our worship, the gospel contained and proclaimed in bread and wine. Generosity and sacrifice are the Sine qua non, the essential ingredient without which Holy Communion is devoid of meaning.
Jesus gave thanks for all that would ensue beyond his suffering and the giving of his life as the ultimate gift. As we reflect and give thanks, we are also called to live sacrificial lives in remembrance of him. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion remind us the sacraments are witnesses, by which God works invisibly in us, to quicken, strengthen and confirm our faith.
With Christ as host, and we guests at his table; in the sacred moment we partake of Holy Communion, Jesus comes among us, and not only gives us food for the journey, he also invites us into a visceral and corporeal reality where his nourishment unleashes limitless generosity.
In Dethroning Mammon, Making Money Serve Grace (2016), Justin Welby reminds us that, as Jesus poured out his own life for others, we his followers must transition to an understanding of the abundance of God’s economy. As we develop a lifestyle of habits that dethrone mammon our outrageous generosity will be marked as ones who trust that when we give away, more will come back.