On this Holy Saturday, and final day of Lent, we listen to a theologian of Holy Saturday, Alan Lewis and an extract from his book Between Cross and Resurrection, completed just before his death from cancer in 1994.
Like baptism, the Eucharist is profoundly personal and individual, the promise to each recipient of bread and wine that this is Christ's body broken, his blood spilt, specifically "for you." And communion, like baptism, is by definition communal: we, being many, are one, just as the loaf of many particles is one; for Christ himself, who comprises many members, is one, and we participate in him (1 Cor. 12.16-17). But above all, like baptism, the Lord's Supper is cosmic in its scope. As is understood increasingly today, through an ecumenical deprivatizing of the sacrament, this is a meal for all humanity, a messianic, doxological banquet proleptic of eschatological festivities, when humanity shall comes from east and west, north and south, to eat together at one table in God's kingdom (Lk. 13.39; cf. 1 Cor. 11.26; Lk. 22.15-18), and when every creature shall be reconciled and gathered up in hymns of praise and glory to the Maker of heaven and earth (Col 1.20; Rev 5.11-14).
If, however, as a sign of creaturely and human unity, the Lord's table is always approached with joy, in hope and expectation for the world's reconciliation, we can scarcely partake there without many pangs of sorrow, indignation, and remorse. As with baptism, so with Eucharist, every enactment of the sacrament constitutes a protest at the world's disunity, let alone the church's: the incongruity between heavenly vision and earthly, and ecclesiastical, reality. There must be grief here at the world's refusal to accept God's invitation to the banquet of redemption (Lk. 14:12-24). This is a meal for the poor and maimed, the lame and blind; yet the world, recalcitrant and stubborn, remains outside, broken, crippled, crooked, refusing to accept the truth of its own healing already realised in Christ's rising from the grave of the ugly, the stricken, and the despised (Is. 53.1-9). And there must be repentance at our meal: shame that the church fails so continuously and comprehensively to provide an empirical foretaste of human wholeness and togetherness; and that while we eat the bread and drink the cup in fellowship and feasting, sisters and brothers go hungry and thirsty, their flesh still torn and blood still split by poverty, disease, violence, and ear, by manifold evils, human and demonic. And there must be commitment: to live out the costly demands of the Easter Saturday identity, confirmed in very Eucharist, that as participants in Christ's own death and burial we shall struggle, suffer, and makes sacrifices, perhaps of life itself, in solidarity with those around us and for their healing and their freedom. The Supper of our Lord, no private retreat of religiosity and piety, drives us to preach and practice Christ's lordship in the public square, in the courthouses and prison cells, the refuges and ghettos, in the corridors of power and towers of opulence - where injustices are perpetrated, greed idolised, power centralised, while "the least," who are Christ's sisters and brothers, remained naked, hungry, and forlorn.
Alan E. Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday (Eerdmans, 2001), pp.455-456.