A Thought on the Eucharist Inspired by a Reading from Hegel

03.02.16 / 08.02.28

As I was just now reading Hegel on the Spirit of Christianity…and as he kept mentioning the first Eucharist at the Last Supper…and as he was consistently throughout the discourse abstracting Jesus’ parables as well as his actions to offer illustrations cogent to his own discourse…I, too, saw something in the Eucharist ceremony which could be abstracted to contribute to my own interests.  I am interested in the bread and wine Jesus offers to his disciples as his body and blood, as a bond with an everlasting God.  The specific choice of food stuffs which symbolize God as a part of all of our being are interesting choices as symbols for God.

In addition to the very specific quality of bread and wine I wish to highlight, I’ll first offer some general characteristics of these food stuffs that intrigue me.  First of all is the fact that food, both solid food and drink, are necessities for our survival and suggestive of God being something we need.  Second of all, it is interesting that in this ritual, to honor God we do not give gifts so much as we codify God in objects which are necessary to our existence and then proceed to ingest God to reinforce the notion that God is a part of us.  Third, the fact that God is represented by such common and basic food stuffs reinforces an idea of God which is egalitarian.  But these characteristics could be derived from many common food stuffs.

What I find particularly interesting is the fact that Jesus did not offer grapes, oats, barley, water, fruits, honey, or vegetables.  He offered bread and wine as symbols of God, two food stuffs which only exist by application of human processing to that which is available naturally all around us.  This I think gets to the heart of the matter — that what is really valuable and of issue within the interactions of humanity, that what is really essential to our human-ness, is how we process the world in order to investigate it and ourselves and to use it – that the God embodied within us is the very act of processing our reality.  It reifies an idea that not merely existing is sacred but in fact our investigation of existence and manipulation of our own reality is God-like and sacred.  It is this act of processing which we offer as our gift to God.  As noted by Hegel, Jesus, in the first Eucharist, reaffirmed the God in the natural, in our necessity for this world.  But what I find really interesting in the choice of bread and wine is that God is to be found in the abstraction of our world and the processing of it.  It may be said then, that the God we serve and the God in all of us is the order we apply to the world.

Referring back to a musing from late Dec., I contemplated the notion that conceptualizing “God,” and then naming “God” (naming is itself an act of processing existence) is in essence, the first – the most fundamental — process carried out by humanity.  Just as we process grapes to make wine or grain to make bread, our entire interaction with the world is built upon processing it, defining it, attempting to explain it, and what process predates that of recognizing and naming the possibility that there is an underlying order and energy…perhaps an underlying spirit…greater than ourselves, on which we are dependent?  God is always and forever the starting point for all processing because by recognizing and naming God, there is an associated implication that there is a useful order to our reality for us to decipher — which justifies our processing of all things and ideas within our world.  For some reason, for us, humans, the very first processing must come from somewhere outside of humanity.  How else can we explain the world we find?  And if not from the God we name, where would we derive our right to process the world in which we find ourselves?  On what basis would we process?  We ascribe to God the first processing so that we may proceed with our own.  And from this perspective, bread and wine are in fact perfect symbols for the God within us.

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