Connection equals Presence OR What I learned after 1 yr. of Zoomchurch

Corpus Christi Sunday,  June 6, 2021

Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles Community

Rev. Jim Ryan, M.Div.,Ph.D.  jimryan6885@gmail.com

Some in the community know that the daily schedule in the Ford-Ryan household includes checking on the time that the International Space Station will fly overhead that night.  We are fortunate that our little house in the country has a backyard that has a view that opens fully to both the southern and the western horizon.  When the Space Station starts low in the west and rises on its path toward the southeastern horizon, it’s a sight to see.  If you haven’t done this, you can go to the website, Spot the Station (spotthestation.nasa.gov) to select the sighting times for your location. (There’s no sightings until after June 19 for SE Wisconsin.  So, you may want to check in after that date.)

We were watching one night a couple weeks ago as the Station’s solid white light passed through the Big Dipper – even Connor watched with us that night – when Jean said, “Look at that.”  That was a string of lights heading across the sky also.  They were all on the same path following each other equidistantly.  Turned out there were 60 of those lights.  “What,” you may ask as we did, “was that?”

Our possibilities were to settle on UFO theories or to google it.  So, I googled “string of lights In the night sky” and got very interesting results.  First, we learned we were not alone.  The TV station in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was flooded with calls asking the same question.

So, here’s what we found out.  The String of Lights – following each other on the same path across the sky, keeping the same distance from each other – is a part of the Starlink Project.  Starlink is one of Elon Musk’s companies.  What we experienced was the launching of 60 satellites from one of the SpaceX rockets.  Apparently, they load up to 60 satellites, shaped like flattened cars with a solar panel attached.  In all, 60 satellites are loaded on the rocket.  Once the rocket achieves a certain height it starts “spitting” out satellites.  And off they go all on the same trajectory across the sky.  (Also Google: Starlink and Spacex)  Musk’s goal is to eventually place 40,000 satellites to encompass Earth.  The purpose is to create a structure to support humanity’s need and desire to connect with each other.

To his credit, Musk (and, of course, others) acknowledges that life requires connection and future life will demand sustainable connections.  If, somehow, we find this hard to believe, I would think that this past year of isolation and separation would guarantee this belief.

Now, you may wonder what does this connection have to do with the Feast of Corpus Christi – the Sacrament of the Presence of Christ?  It occurs to me that this world, those lives we live, are formed by the theory and practice of Communication.  In communication connection equals presence.  This is one of the ways I explain for myself the separation between those who believe in the Big Lie of the stolen election in 2020 and those who still rely on fact, science, tried and true electoral structures and basic interhuman connection.  Yes, communication equals presence.  We value physical presence of one person to another.  However, when the world enlarges, the sense of presence becomes less physical and more matter of connection.  For example, these differences that are driven by communication actually have resulted in the presence of the Big Lie and little has been done by certain communications (read: media) companies to reveal the basis of the lie.

In our world as well in our spiritual life, connection at many levels means presence.  And the power of the connection determines the power of the presence.  The belief in the presence of Christ is also about connection.  For multiple centuries Roman Catholic sacramental theology teaches that Bread and Wine – material things make the connection into presence for us.  But, I ask, is that still the case?  Do these material things form us into community?  Or, does the community form the material things into the connection of presence?

On the night before he died did Jesus take up bread and wine to show this community that these things – this Sacrament – form them into community?  Or, did he gather this community, already formed (though, just barely) to share bread and wine to show them who they already were.  And each time they gathered the love and service they shared in community became obvious through their eating and drinking.

In here book, “Sacramentality Renewed,” Lizette Larson-Miller offers these thoughts about Real Presence and contemporary conversations about Sacrament.  As connections beyond physical and material realities increasingly define presence for us, so too must we expand what being interpersonal means.  She talks about intersubjectivity thanks to Joseph Bracken for his work in interconnection and communication.  Larson-Miller echoes Pope Francis, I think, when she says that the encounter of presence with each other – these days both physical and virtual – exemplifies real presence.

In our zoomchurch encounters over the past year, especially in our sharing the community meal of bread and wine, how can we deny this real presence of Christ among us?

Larson-Miller also writes about the principle of participation.  In this she admits her debt to Richard Hooker (1554-1600) whose views on the presence of the whole Christ in each one of us requires us to participate fully in the community’s sacred meal. How easily can we look back to the time when Mass was something to observe.  What we come to appreciate in this time is that when we fully participate – we don’t observe Christ,  we are Christ.

These principles of intersubjectivity and participation, I think, make it possible to celebrate this community, who we are as co-creators, living the divine life, being real presence.

Doesn’t it say somewhere, “The Church is Sacrament?”  And we add, ”We are church for in this communion we are Christ.”


A Prayer   (JR)

       We pray in the name of the Elohim – Creator, Redeemer, Holy Spirit.    Amen.  We search for you Elohim, God who is many – many in your persons and many in your presences. Each time we act in the name of Christ we witness to the many ways that you are present.  We gather in presence to each other and so manifest the life of Christ among us – this Sacrament of Presence   

       We pray in the name of Elohim – Creator, Redeemer, Holy Spirit.    Amen.

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