By NEMS Daily Journal
Observance tomorrow of World Communion Sunday allows thousands of participating Christian congregations to affirm their unity in faith even while holding differing views about understandings of doctrines and interpretations of scripture and church history.
The central focus of World Communion Sunday is for millions of people to participation the same day worldwide in a sacrament, or ordinance as it is also called, that is virtually universally observed as an essential element of worship, at least periodically if not every Sunday.
Barbara Brown Taylor, a former Episcopal priest who remains a popular writer and professing Christian, wrote an inviting, even compelling chapter in her book, “The Luminous Web/essays on Science and Religion” that’s titled “The Physics of Communion.”
Quantum physics is mathematics, as she notes, and trying to squeeze it into reality using the English language is possible only within limits. She cites physicist Niels Bohr, who says “we must be clear, when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry.”
Taylor writes, “Bohr’s point is that our language is not adequate to describe things we cannot see, much less understand. The best we can do is to create images that give us some handle on how these things act. Thus physics is less concerned with what nature is than what can be said about nature.”
Conceding that what Bohr said sounds like religion, Taylor says, “I remain clear, as Bohr said, when it comes to God, language can be used only as poetry.”
Her journey through Newtonian physics and into the work of Albert Einstein is dizzying, but in subtle ways that move in the mystery of faith, she makes connections in science and faith at the same time, asking provocative questions.
“I … began to wonder if the universe might have a memory that pre-dates the big bang. Back before the explosion triggered the expansion into time and space, there was that egg of universe in which all places were one place and all things were one thing. I would call it the garden of Eden, only the beauty of the garden lay in its diversity. The beauty of the earlier reality was its unity, its total coherence. Mind, matter and time were not yet different. They were all floating in the same yolk Then the universe was born and the one became many
“… But what if deep down in the being of these many things remains the memory of their being one, which makes them behave in ways which torture scientists?”
She finds the connecting point in Christian religious memory in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, “There is one body and one spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Eph. 4:4-6
Human divisions within Christianity – race, geography, accents, languages, skin color ad gender – make disunity a disturbing norm, the opposite of what Holy Communion (the Lord’s Super, the Eucharist, and all the other names by which it is called ) was instituted to overcome.
World Communion Sunday has been in practice for less than 100 years, but it is a beginning, in its best sense, to grasping that common deep memory of how we came to be, from the ” I Am Who I Am” spoken to Moses, the voice from before time.
Jeorg Rieger, the Methodist theologian calls it “the core of reality.”
Taylor writes, “For the moment we see thrpough a glass darkly. We live in the illusion we are all separate ‘I ams.’ When the fog finally clears we shall know there is only One.”
In finding that reality of memory we receive Communion.