Here is the source of every sacrament,
The all-transforming presence of the Lord,
Replenishing our every element,
Remaking us in his creative Word.
For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,
The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,
The fire dances where the candles shine,
The waters cleanse us with his gentle touch.
And here he shows the full extent of love
To us whose love is always incomplete,
In vain we search the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet.
Though we betray him, though it is the night.
He meets us here and loves us into light.
Hear Malcolm Guite Read Today’s Poem
The day before Good Friday is known as Maundy Thursday. The events of that day are rich and densely packed with meaning. Among other things Jesus said and did, He gathered His disciples for the first communion. At the Incarnation, Jesus the Word became flesh, and now, on the eve of His sacrifice, He expanded that communion with man.
As Malcom Guite writes in The Word in the Wilderness:
It is the Word himself who says of that bread ‘This is my Body’, the same Word through whose utterance everything that is becomes itself. When this Word speaks then something substantial, something new, is brought into existence. From his words in that room, to his Word dwelling richly in our hearts, the Novum Mandatum, the new commandment from which this day takes its name, springs into being. So too does the new reality of our communion with him physically in his body and his blood. There is therefore on this day a renewal of incarnation, an opening out of its fuller meaning. The body and blood he took for our sakes, woven in Mary’s womb is shared with us as he shares our nature, extended to and through us, so that we too are Christ’s Body. Amazingly and wonderfully, he who took our human nature shares with us his divine nature: the Spirit is here for us to breathe, the substance of the true God is there with us, not high and inaccessible as Isaiah found it when he saw the Lord mighty and lifted up, but close, humbled below us, kneeling at our feet to wash us, or broken and placed into our hands to feed us.
How does communion inform our daily life?
Matthew 26: 26-29
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
Dig Deeper: Literature & Liturgy
Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings. For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page.
Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith
For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.
Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.