The Glocal World and the Eucharist

If you haven’t been made aware of it yet, our world is quickly becoming glocalized. I know it sounds like a made up word, and I suppose in some ways it is, but the importance of being familiar with its meaning is paramount. Nearly everywhere we turn we are seeing its affects, resulting both in new challenges and new potentialities. Whereas in days gone past, people were relatively isolated geographically, resulting in their cultures, personalities, and goals being bound locally. Towns, villages, counties, states, and perhaps your country were generally your realms of knowledge and experience. Sure there were people, places, and things “out there” somewhere, but you only read of them or, until relatively recent times, watched them on television.

With the onset of technological innovation, our geographical boundaries, and therefore our cultural ones as well, have exploded. Events happening half a world away now affect you in your local grocery store. Think it isn’t true? Recall the recent Egyptian turmoil mixed with the following government upheavals in the general vicinity of Egypt. Now think about your vegetable and fruit prices. Now think about your gas prices. (Is this starting to sound like an Old Spice commercial?) They are all linked and have multiple networked results in a glocalized world. So that hand grenade thrown at anti-government rebels in a small town in Africa may very well mean your vacation plans going down the tubes.

But this doesn’t just have to discussed negatively. There are multitudes of positive examples. Think about all the aid that has been put together through the glocalized networks of our planet. The other day I heard of a little elementary school boy collecting money for people struck by disaster in Japan. For this little boy, his neighborhood has been drastically altered from his actual neighborhood to a global one in which he, a young American white boy, can actually do something for people in Japan. He is thinking locally while acting globally.

Another example, and one that directly impacts me, has been the glocal relationship between the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the Anglican Mission in the Americas. Not only did the Rwandan church come to the aid and rescue of Episcopalians looking for refuge from heretical bishops, but in turn they came to the rescue of many people who have met Christ through AMiA. Without going into great detail, the Anglican Rwandan church, in the poorest country on Earth, welcomed orthodox Anglicans into their fold in order to send them back to America as missionaries to their own country. Not only did this free them ecclesiastically, but more so missionally for the sake of others. If you want  the entire story, I highly recommend Never Silent, which narrates the story of the glocal efforts of the Rwandans and a small band of Americans.

As a result of this, we in AMiA, have taken on some of the Rwandan liturgy. This is just another example of the life-giving result of being connected relationally in a global-local way. Below is the Post-Communion prayer and the Blessing given to end the liturgy every Sunday during Lent. It beautifully captures the essence of why we gather and then are sent out as missionaries to our communities. Thus, together, as a local congregation and a global church, both in America and Rwanda, we are lifting our voices and our lives, in unison, to the God who is community and love. In a very real way, the Eucharist itself is that which glocalizes the world.

O God of our fathers, before whose face the human generations pass away: We give thanks that in you we are kept safe for ever, and that the broken fragments of our history are gathered up in the redeeming act of your dear Son, remembered in this holy sacrament of bread and wine. Help us to walk daily in the Communion of Saints, declaring our faith in the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body. Now send us out in the power of your Holy Spirit to live and work for your praise and glory. Amen.”

Then the one leading the service gives the final Blessing, which is responded to by all with an “Amen”:

May God the Father, who does not despise the broken spirit, give to you a contrite heart. Amen.

May God the Son, who bore our sins in his body on the tree, heal you by his wounds. Amen.

May God the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth, speak to you words of pardon and peace. Amen.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.”

Rather beautiful, isn’t it?