The Eucharist: A Simile for Life


Beginning in elementary school, literary devices such as metaphor, alliteration, and simile gave budding writers the tools to cast a person as a wild boar, to make a rainbow like a pathway to paradise, and to pour plenty of pleasant images into their writing. These devices showed up in books, too. Young high school students learned that according to William Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage.”[1] College students pondered the meaning of Emily Dickinson’s words, “Dying is a wild night and a new road.”[2]

Students recognized them, discussed them, and located them on a test. Somewhere between graduation and launching into a career, the fun of metaphors, similes, and other literary devices …well, ended like a cell phone signal in the country. It can be found again if you drive back into town, but in most cases, literary devices end up a less noticeable part of life.

In these three components the Eucharist acts as a simile for family life. The purpose of using simile is simple: our faith and our homes need a way of connecting ordinary daily living to the greater whole of God’s story for humankind. Stories of faith are full of literary devices, including the story of God, the story of God’s people the Israelites, and the story of the followers of Jesus. These components are a perfect way to ponder the Eucharist and its presence in our daily lives.

All three components are meant for use in the context of the home. Home is especially challenging to define. Is home where you gather with the ones you love and are in relationship with others through adoption, birth, close friendship, marriage, and partnership? Is home a physical location like an apartment, house, or condo? However you define home, that is where these sessions should take place.

According to J. Bradley Wigger, “A powerful form of teaching is simply leading the way for engaging in rituals, disciplines, and practices that are explicitly religious. When these happen at home, children learn that home is spiritual territory.”[3] Each component is designed for use at home as a way to cultivate it as a “spiritual territory.”

These components are meant for use in a family. Family is also difficult to put into words and is not limited by cultural definitions. John Chrysostum, an early church Father, wrote about family. He states, “Likewise, the godly family is an image of the church, in so much as all its members rehearse the redeemed and sanctified life, worthy of Christ, that the church continually offers to God in sacrifice.”[4] Image language was important to Chrysostum because of his firm belief in the imago Dei, or image of God imprinted on humanity. If the family is truly an image of the church, it could quite possibly hold much more than parents and children. For the purpose of these components, family is defined by its users.


            Each component is built upon the Eucharist in some way. Therefore, it is best to have a Book of Common Prayer or a copy of the weekly bulletin nearby to use. Using the previous week’s bulletin is a great way to carry the experience of the Sunday morning Eucharist into the rest of the week.

Box of Questions

Similar to printing vocabulary terms on index cards for studying, these questions are meant to be photocopied onto cardstock then cut to into pieces and stacked like a deck of playing cards. The cards, when placed in a location in the home where people gather to eat (i.e. kitchen table, island, counter top, coffee table), foster open dialogue on challenging topics.

On one side of the card is a question about the Eucharist. On the opposite side is a question about living as a family. The two questions are meant to begin the connection between what occurs in the Eucharist and what occurs in the home. Sometimes there is a quote or piece of writing to prompt more discussion.

Give One, Take One

            Positive words of encouragement and affirmation build up the soul. In Give One, Take One, families ponder part of the Eucharist using feeling statements. This is a vulnerable way to interact as a family. A person’s feelings are always valid because they are his or her own. Stating them to a family member can be hard.

When statements are read it requires two people, one who gives and one who takes. Giving is finding a statement that speaks to the moment and filling in the blanks. Taking is simply listening to the other person speak. In other words, one person in the family blesses another person in the family when they are willing to open up about their feelings. Reciprocal action is not required, just good listening. Statements are numbered and match the box of questions in content related to the Eucharist. If desired they can be used together.

Pillow Talk

Children and adults alike enjoy a bedtime story. Likewise, the Eucharist contains weekly readings or “stories” from the Hebrew Bible, the Psalms, the Gospels, and Epistles. They compose a large portion of the Eucharist known as the Lessons. In pillow talk, families read passages together. Then they ponder the passages as a simile of part of the Eucharist.

In particular, for the purpose of this document, the suggested stories come from the texts of the Revised Common Lectionary Year C for Advent. Any text works with the guiding questions and fill in the blank suggestions. Ultimately, the stories that are told can connect with the Eucharist in many ways. The fun is finding the connection. More than one connection is possible. Scripture passages printed are from the Common English Bible. Other translations are perfectly acceptable.

To download this curriculum, click below.

Eucharist as Simile Curriculum

[1] http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/you-it-act-ii-scene-vii-all-worlds-stage

[2] http://www.emilydickinson.it/l0331-0360.html

[3] J. Bradley Wigger, The Power of God at Home: Nurturing Our Children in Love and Grace, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003), 133.

[4] Marcia J. Bunge, The Child in Christian Thought, (Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 2001), 64.


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