Miriam Therese Winter is professor of liturgy, worship, and spirituality at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. A Medical Mission Sister who has served on four continents, she has recorded a dozen musical albums, including the classic Joy Is Like the Rain. She is the author of several books including The Gospel According to Mary and The Singer and the Song.
In this cogent paperback, Winter challenges us at the outset with the words: "Imagine a spirituality rooted in doing what Jesus did, one that adds a sacramental dimension to our everyday lives." We are familiar with the grace inherent in the Eucharist but the author is interested in eucharist with a small "e." What does she mean? "Eucharist with a small 'e' is not about rites or rituals. It is about intensifying our relationship with God by immersing ourselves in the witness and wisdom of Jesus . . . The focus, therefore, is not on resources for prayer or coming up with an orderly design for a sacramental meal, but on developing those qualities that are relational, such as being genuinely hospitable, being a good listener, cultivating the gift of telling a story, beginning with one's own, encouraging others to tell their story, learning to share the concerns of the heart, sensing when the Spirit is stirring, believing that the connections between eating and drinking and the spirit of Jesus are absolutely real."
Winter takes us through the New Testament accounts of meals in the life of Jesus: the wedding at Cana, with Peter's mother-in-law, feeding the five thousand, at the home of Jarius, at the home of Zaccheus, on the Sabbath, dinner with a leader of the Pharisees, dinner at Bethany, a meal with Martha and Mary, the Last Supper, and the post-resurrection meals. They are incredibly varied, and they let in light from many sides on how we should behave in fellowship around the table. Winter suggests we reflect on the most memorable meals in our lives and see them as sacramental moments. She wants us to validate the table fellowship of Jesus as authentic eucharist a time when the Spirit works within us and animates us to give thanks to God, grow in grace, serve others, and be justice and peace in a conflict-torn world. Her emphasis on walking in the Way of Jesus and seeing ourselves as one in the Spirit with others is very salutary in these times.