Welcome to “Wisdom of the Body: The Body and Blood and Christ; the conclusion of a seven-part series chronicling the Wisdom of the Body work that Bill Redfield brought to the diocesan convention of the Episcopal Church in November 2017 in South Carolina. As an exploration of the group healing potential of the Wisdom of the Body, this series has followed the presentation and exercises that Bill developed for a particular convention, in the hope that it may be useful to you in your personal and group work as well. Below you will find the links to each of the parts of the series as well as a place for comments. We would love to hear from you about this series! And Bill would be happy to address any questions you might have about the work.
V. Wisdom of the Body: The Body and Blood of Christ
The final expression of our work together was to express that, by virtue of our sacrament of the Eucharist, we uncover our deepest identity. This I introduced as Wisdom of the Body and the Blood. The Gathered Faithful are drawn together not just by common belief and common hope and not even by just common prayer. The Eucharist lifts us to a different level of reality altogether. “The ordinary bread and the ordinary wine, through grace and specific intentionality, become Christ’s Body and Blood—instantiations of being that connect us to another realm. And by ingesting these, we are raised to this level.”
But this is not an individual experience such that an individual might find
personal salvation in this way. It is deeply and profoundly collective.
That is why I waited until we were gathered in this larger circle configuration to remind them of this reality. Here there were tears of recognition and understanding. Having gone through this progression of experiential steps, my hope was that, rather than a matter of mental belief, that this reality that they were hearing could be experienced in the participants’ bodies.
The Chorale by Steven Sharp Nelson begins: O, Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown
This Body is more than the sum of its parts. More than being joined by a common identity and purpose, we are also joined in an even deeper way. By virtue of our receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, we are joined not just to one another, but also, through our bodies, to the divine realm. The ordinary bread and the ordinary wine, through grace and specific intentionality, become Christ’s Body and Blood—instantiations of being that connect us to another realm. And by ingesting these, we are raised to this level. This is Wisdom of the Body. This is the Wisdom of the Body and the Blood.
The Body and the Blood of the Eucharist are not elements of a memorial meal to distant God or to a Master who lived in a previous time.
These are living realities that thrust us into the dance of life,
into the divine/human exchange.
Here, we are directly engaging with both Jesus and the world.
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Steven Sharp Nelson
And more than the periodic nurturance of a weekly experience, the Body and the Blood of Christ comprise the essential reality out of which we are seeking to live our everyday lives. This needs to be integrated into the deepest authenticity of each one of us and then lived out with others—those who are like us and those who appear different—those who agree with us and those who disagree.
We do this not just in terms of our mental beliefs and our creeds, but in and through these physical bodies. This, then, is what it means to be an embodied being—to be the embodiment of love and compassion. This is Wisdom of the Body and it reveals the contours of Jesus’ own generous and self-giving heart. It is Jesus’ heart and it is yours and it is mine…
Take one last longing look around this circle. Allow yourself to see the face of Jesus and the Body of Christ. This is the miraculous and mysterious reality we are living into.
Members of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina: your ministry of self-giving love is unfurling and is expressed and manifested as Wisdom of the Body—the Wisdom of your physical body, the Wisdom of the Body of the Gathered Faithful, and the Wisdom of the Body and Blood of Christ. In letting your love flow, may you be healed and forever blessed. Amen.
Afterwards, Skip came up to me in tears. He himself had been deeply moved in this progression of experiences. I strongly suspect, however, that his tears were as much an expression of his tender-hearted love for his people and their experience here, than they were for just his own experience. But that’s Skip—he sees himself and knows himself as an integral part of the whole.
So, was this daring experiential encounter successful? I hardly know how to define “success” any more. Were the participants engaged? To be sure. Had there been some resistance? Of course. I had anticipated that. But mostly I could feel myself as having been deeply engaged with this group of people. I knew in my own body that something of import had been transacted here. That is what I had come to do, and that is what had transpired. Beyond that I really didn’t need any praise.
Later that afternoon, I contacted the folks who had been “leaning in” and “energetically present” for me in this work. I briefly related the seeming positive effects of this work and their important part in it. For me, there was no question that this had made all the difference in our work this day.
And the final part of this work has to do with your reading and your consideration of all of this. Might there be something here that is addressed to you…?
For your convenience, here are the links to:
posted September 25, 2018 by Bill Redfield
The Rev. William C. Redfield prepared this material for a presentation at The Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Hilton Head, South Carolina, Saturday, November 11, 2017. You may read more about Bill on the Our Teachers page of this website.