Holy Communion – 10

2. Freedom

In the Supper, there is an ‘uplifting’ of our own humanity, a freely given participation in the life of God.

This in turn transforms the whole conception of the analogical relation in the sacramental participation. Not only is it one which has Christological content, but it is an active analogy, the kind by which we are conducted upward to spiritual things, and are more and more raised up to share in the life of God. This is an elevation or exaltation into fellowship with the divine life through the amazing condescension of the Son who has been pleased to unite Himself with us in our poverty and unrighteousness, that through redemption, justification, sanctification, eternal life, and all the other benefits that reside in Christ we may be endowed with divine riches, even with the life and love that overflow in Christ from God Himself.[1]

The reality is that in Jesus Christ, God shares his own freedom with us, creating a human community called the Church whose spirit is none other than the same Holy Spirit of the Triune God. As God ceaselessly pours himself out on his people, freedom happens. This freedom is enacted in Baptism and celebrated at the Supper. In the words of Robert Jensen, ‘The practice of my freedom is that I am opened to the possibility by utterly various and unpredictable gifts which the Spirit gives other members of the church. Freedom is being able to drink from one cup with the rich and the poor, the healthy and the alarmingly diseased. Freedom is having to forgive and be forgiven.’[2]

In the Supper we ‘celebrate’ this freedom through divine service as an act of thanksgiving for God’s rendering of free service to us through Christ.[3] This eucharist is properly that of the Son to the Father into which we are uplifted as we fellowship with Christ in the Spirit through the communion (koinonia) of the meal. cf. John 16:32‑33; 17:24.
Thus the Sacrament is an action in which we receive Christ and feed upon His Body and Blood by faith, giving thanks for what He has done in the whole course of His obedience, but it is also an action in which we set forth the bread and wine and plead the merits of Christ, taking shelter in His sole and sufficient Mediation and advocacy on our behalf, and lift up our hearts in praise and thanksgiving for His triumphant resurrection and for His ascension, in which we cling to the royal intercessions of the ascended Lord who is set down on the throne of God Almighty … It is our entering within the veil through Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us and our consecration before the face of the Father.[4]
___________________________________
[1] Torrance, Conflict, 145.
[2] Robert W. Jenson, On Thinking the Human: Resolutions of Difficult Notions (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003), 44.
[3] Barth, CD IV/2, 702.
[4] Torrance, Conflict , 147f.

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