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Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Enriching Communion by Bill Snelson
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  "See how our understanding of 'communion' can be broader and deeper and richer!" These are among the opening words of what can fairly be described as a 'gem' of a book, which acknowledges that we cannot yet share together at the Lord's Table but looks beyond to explore how the unity in Christ (communion) we already share can be extended and enhanced. Bill Snelson has been General Secretary of Churches together in England since 1997, bringing with him a rich ecumenical experience as County Ecumenical Officer for West Yorkshire. His book is the result of a request made by a gathering of Christians from all over England at Swanwick, Derbyshire, in 2003 to look at ways in which communion can be shared, outside or beyond the Eucharist. In 60 pages Bill covers a great deal of ground very effectively giving historical perspectives and current agreements, attitudes and approaches. They enable understanding of where we are now and why but are also a window onto as yet unplumbed depths of communion we need to develop. His text divides into two main parts. The first, Sharing the Eucharist, explores various themes: first Changing Times, a look at Eucharistic practices over time and in different traditions. The second theme is the Eucharist among today's priorities, which include mission, apostolic faith, fresh interpretations of the gospel and service to the sick and needy. The third theme is the reality of and questions around the Eucharist as the Sacrament of Unity. Fourthly, The Eucharist in a Hungry World addresses the consequences for those who receive it, who are called to strive for justice and equality. The theme Eucharist as Event explains how the Eucharist has acquired greater significance through history in different traditions. The second part Searching for Communion is a delightful and encouraging evaluation of where communion exists and is being developed in the lived Word, in service, in prayer, through the lens of four different praying communities, and fellowship in worship, other than specifically Eucharistic elements of liturgy. The section on Fellowship with the saints" recognises not only the reciprocal infliction of martyrdom but heroes of faith in many churches. Contrasting and mutually enriching sections follow on the Sacramentality of the whole of life dear to many Christians who do not celebrate Eucharist and the Awe and Wonder of the Eucharist expressed, for example by Gregory of Nazianzus. I was a little sorry the last little chapter has the title One Body ­ Broken because I think the tone of the book is more optimistic: a recognition that we have a host of opportunities available to us to move towards One Body ­ Becoming. An added bonus comes in talks given by Dr Inderjit Bhogal and Most Rev. Vincent Nichols at an ecumenical gathering on the subject of Eucharist. This book is excellent reading both for those who have travelled long on the ecumenical path and those who are starting out on the adventure of Christian unity. Enriching Communion, by Bill Snelson, £4.95 from CTE, 27 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9HH 020 75298141 ISBN 1 874295 29 8 first published LONDON - 27 November 2006 - 519 words
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