May 9, 2019
LUKE 24:28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Our Lord took, blessed and broke the bread. In the Second Rite for Eucharist in the Book of Common Prayer [page 364], the rubrics (stage directions) are emphatic on one point. After the bread is broken,
The Breaking of the Bread
The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread.
A period of silence is kept.
Then may be sung or said
[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]
Although this is more often than not ignored, rushing as we are toward lunch, I believe it the most solemn moment of the service. Why? On a good day, humidity willing, an audible cracking is heard. This action, called the Fraction, is the moment when mystically the broken body of Jesus becomes one with all the brokenness in us. The words of the Prophet Isaiah (53:5) are fulfilled (or filled full), “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
In the face of such love and sacrifice, all we can do if fall into a length of silence. It is my practice at Saint John’s to pause for 10 or so seconds. Speechlessness is the only response to the magnitude of just what God has done for us in the resurrection.
In hope, in spite of the facts.