The Beloved

Every Eucharist is a thanksgiving. It is what the word means.

I remember reading a very moving passage from a liturgical theologian (must have been Gregory Dix, I think) about the different events that had been marked by the sharing of bread and wine in thanksgiving. It is celebrated week by week in high places and grubby places. It is celebrated at death beds and when kings and queens are crowned. It is offered in thanksgiving at harvest and in remembrance of souls who have passed.

Each Eucharist I celebrate teaches me something new. That is the nature of liturgical formation. Each time fresh. Each time something that God offers back to us, increasing the knowledge that we have in justice restored, hope revealed, holiness amongst us and resurrection life itself.

Today I celebrated a Eucharist in circumstances which were new to me but which felt old and traditional all the same. A new addition to the range of things that human beings have wanted to mark with the sharing of the bread of heaven and the wine of new life. Today it was in celebration of a Civil Partnership between two people whom I have come to know through my work.

Duncan wrote last week of his sense of holiness in being with a couple as they vow to be with one another for life. I know that feeling well, yet every time it surprises me just a little. The most intimate of moments a couple ever have, but shared with their families and friends and in the awesome presence of the living God. Today was no different.

As I helped the two men through their vows and then served communion to them and their friends in thanksgiving, I knew the Eucharist of old. And I knew the Eucharist afresh. I know Christ at that meal every time. Today it was knowing him holding the beloved disciple in his arms as he shared with his friends on his last night and as he has done at every Eucharist since.

People like me have been waiting for services like the one I celebrated today for so long.

Christ the beloved one has been waiting much longer.


  1. Thanks for writing this, Kelvin!

  2. vicky says

    Many years ago I attended the wedding of one of my best pals from university in our university’s Chapel. It was a small but joyful occasion – a full nuptial mass (RC) – itself quite a thing as I had always thought of the university chapel as indisputibly Church of Scotland territory. But graduates of the university had the right to marry in the University chapel and that meant that, when required, a Catholic service could be done. As I stood being handed hankies by the best man’s, best-friend, I wondered what it would be like to have the chance to be married there. (Even though I was a raging feminist who wasn’t too sure of the politics of marriage.)

    In the early 1990s I knew that as a lesbian the uni chapel was somewhere I could visit, but not somewhere I could celebrate my love officially. It was an exclusive right of heterosexual graduates of the university (that I had given up when I discovered that my love wasn’t quite good enough for most of society (both Christian and secular) or for the University powers).

    I have to say Kelvin that to read of your blessing ceremony in that same chapel really made me smile.

  3. See below the Gregory Dix quotation which became very powerful to me as I travelled and shared in the Eucharist over the summer:

  4. John-Julian, OJN says

    When I’ve had that same experience, it is a kind of “wholeness” that fills my heart – a sense that finally nothing and no one has been omitted, left out, or rejected. It has the feeling of everything coming together into one — a common experience for our most accomplished contemplatives. In her wonderful Middle English Dame Julian called it “one-ing”….a special word with a world of meaning.

  5. Elizabeth says

    It was a privilege to witness and participate in such blessing, love and freedom. I knew we were surrounded by clouds of witnesses, both in the flesh and the spirit, all rejoicing.

  6. The only way you could possibly believe it permissible to perform such a rite is by ignoring Holy Scriptures and the Faith that has been handed down from the Apostles. The souls of those two are on your head.

    As a man who lived much of my adult life in the gay community, I know what it feels like to live in disobedience. And I intend to spend the rest of my life speaking to other homosexuals that walking a life of sexual purity is possible….being obedient is possible with the help of His Spirit and a faithful Christian community. I have no desire to be part of a “Church” or sect that is responsible for the spiritual suicide or willing participant of its members. Instead, it is my goal to minister to those with same-sex attraction issues from a redemptive Christian perspective….not help them feel better about how they sin or encourage them to keep doing it. That is not real love.

    God says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” It’s really that simple. It is all about submitting to God’s Law, denying our own sinful flesh, and living as Christ desires us to live.

  7. kelvin says

    My thanks to all those who have posted. Especially to Kimberly and Tom who posted the glorious quote from Dom Gregory that I was struggling to remember.

    Vicky – I’m delighted that you smiled. And delighted that the Chapel is open to all. People who are starting there this Freshers’ Week will never know otherwise.

    Elizabeth – many thanks for all your help in the service, holding up the cross of Christ in our midst.

    Daniel – may God’s peace and blessings be upon you.

    John-Julian – thanks for the word one-ing. You are absolutely right – it is just the word and the sentiment for the occassion.

  8. I find the subject of blessings and thanks for partnerships difficult. Having brought up with the BCP and 1929 prayer books, one of the final prayers on the service is to bless the partnership with children. There are hetrosexual marriages that do not have children, but the couples are still in a loving relationship. The are hetrosexual couples that are not married that have children but have now blessing (and in the past clergy would not baptise children born out of wedlock).

    Then we turn to the subject of same sex partnerships. Why can the law not recognise a low term commitment whether it is a sexual relational or an non-sexual relationship (i.e. two spinsters living together as good friends).

    All these partnerships have mutual respect and long term commitment. Sexual intimacy may of may not take place – is does not need to.

    The difficulty I have is where the bible condones or condemns these relationships. There are people who can (mis)quote the bible to prove any point. And thereby I get very confused.

  9. Eamonn says

    Stewart, if anyone quotes Lev. 18.22 in your hearing to condemn gay relationships, ask them if they have ever eaten lobster or shellfish, which is forbidden by Lev. 11.10-12.

  10. I am pleased to hear about this. If and when my partner and I have a civil partnership, it would mean so much to me to have a priest there to bless it, and it breaks my heart that my own church might deny me that.

  11. As a Christian and as a priest I understand the wonder of the Eucharist to permeate everything we do with the presence of Christ, so I am not surprised to hear of the wonderful way this touched you, and the gift of Christ Really Present (once again as promised)
    I often think of that psalm as I elevate the Host. He reached down from on high and touched me. Never does it fail to work.
    Thank you for ministering to these two guys in this way at this wonderful time, and sharing this with us. No doubt at some personal cost.

  12. david power says

    Truly what one reads here is what the great Bonhoffer described as “cheap grace”.
    People so comfortable in their sin they could not imagine what type of liberation Christ could truly offer them ,and instead bury everything in a feelgood language that reaches out for Glory but demands a rupture with Nature and reality .
    Love covers a multitude of sins,and how St Paul must wince at your understanding of his words.

  13. God’s blessings on you buddy as you continue tobe open to God’s grace and to, as any good priest would, share it with all.

  14. pax58 says

    I grew up in southern West Virginia, USA. It was fairly common for couples to get married soon after a pregnancy had happened. One of my friends was pregnant with twins, I was setting next to my uncle. The priest started the fertility prayer and my uncle said out loud, “Good God, she’s carrying two, how many more do you want her to have?”
    Everyone, including the priest had a good laugh.

  15. pax58 says

    Thanks for the post Kevin, I liked the seniment and also the warmth of seeing the eucharist through the leases of important occassions. Just for fun: when I just started college, one of my friends from high school got pregnant, with twins. As was the custom where I grew up, a hasty wedding was planned.
    The groom and the bride were kneeing at the rail while the priest prayed a prayer for fertitlity, my funny uncle turned around to me and said out loud, “what does he want? They are aready getting two, does he want a dozen?” Everyone on my side of the church starting laughing, which I am sure the bride and groom woul d have also done if they had heard him.


  1. […] September 23rd, 2007 in books Kelvin has written very movingly of the ways the eucharist reforms us.  He alluded to Dom Gregory […]

  2. […] blessing took place on Sunday 23rd (just passed), conducted by the Provost of Glasgow. From the Provost’s own blog , the following: Today I celebrated a Eucharist in circumstances which were new to me but which […]

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