Eucharist and Witness: Orthodox Perspectives on the Unity and Mission of the Church
Author: Petros Vassiliadis
The guiding vision of the ecumenical movement was expressed by the sixth assembly of the World Council of Churches (Vancouver 1983) in terms of a eucharistic vision: "Christ - the life of the world - unites heaven and earth, God and world, spiritual and secular. His body and blood, given to us in the elements of bread and wine, integrate liturgy and diaconate, proclamation and acts of healing...Our eucharistic vision thus encompasses the whole reality of Christian worship, life and witness." Yet within the ecumenical family the integrating potential of the eucharist has been largely unrealized; and this central experience of the Christian faith remains a painful symbol of the churches' divisions. The essays in this book combine biblical study, theological reflection and historical and contemporary analysis to develop a eucharistic understanding of the identity of the church which points beyond old debates to a rediscovery of the central diaconal dimension of the eucharist. Such an understanding, the author contends, can advance ecumenical dialogue while enhancing the churches' ability to address together today's urgent challenges to their work and witness.