I wrote this post in response to this post of Doug Wilson’s at Blog and Mablog:
As a friend and I have often discussed the Eucharist, We have mentioned that there is a good word to use for the meal, a word that gives us “Real” significance, real participation in a real spiritual action, a word that answers the need for real presence without magic, but also avoids mere memorialism:
The Meal is Covenantal.
Paul says as much here (1 Corinthians 10.16):
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
He says that the bread and wine are a participation, not that the bread and wine are Jesus, but that for us they are participation in the altar of the cross, like the eaters of the (sh’lamim) peace/fellowship/thanksgiving offerings of the Levitical command were considered part of the altar’s blessing (1 Corinthians 10.18).
In a Levitical context, the food of the altar didn’t become something different, but it was a covenantal way of sharing in something which if it were merely abstract wouldn’t need anything more than words or thoughts said. Israel needed, and we need to enact and BE the unity of the altar.
Saying it is covenantal is to say that the participation is forensic, not magic, BUT is objective, and not mere memorialism.
Like any other covenant makes people REALLY be family (marriage, adoption), but those ceremonies do it by LAW and not by magic, and again, they REALLY do it, a wedding really made me my wife’s husband, rather than just symbolizing the idea of marriage.