Much controversy has surrounded the Eucharist throughout the history of Christianity. Often basic theology classes divide the beliefs into 4 basic categories: transubstantiation, consubstantiation, Reformed (Calvin), and Memorial (Baptist/Mennonite). The first two categories take the phrase, "This is my body," very literally; whereas the last two take it non-literally. The first two see it as a means of grace from Jesus Christ. The last two see it as commenmorative only.
I believe the basic premise behind each of the categories is wrong which leads to a total misunderstanding of Eucharist. Jesus stated, "This is my body." I take this to be completely true and literal-- but not in the way of the first two categories. When a group of people eat the bread in the practices of the first century church as described in the previous post (It was a whole meal with a blessing of bread and cup in the middle of the dinner. It was a table of confession of belief and sin, a table of forgiveness and peace, a table of mutual participation in pain and hurt, and a table of survival), then indeed it is his very body and blood because it is a community that actually places its body and blood on the line for the sins of the whole world. We imitate our saviour by giving our lives for the forgiveness of sins in daily life. The meal does not just commemorate this idea-- its not meant to be a ceremony-- instead the meal should embody all of this. It should be a true table of grace and forgiveness where grace is bestowed by the people of God towards all who come in repentance. In doing so it is the very embodyment of "the New Covenant in my blood." Not a represenatation but the very literal Body and Blood of Christ.
When we eat the bread and drink the cup