The Sacred Meal
Unlike every other Christian practice, communion is meant to be done together—as the Gospel of Matthew tells us, where two or three “gathered in my name.” You simply can’t do it by yourself. You can pray alone and fast alone. You can even go on pilgrimage alone. Communion, on the other hand, forces us to be with others.
But like these other practices, communion has the same intention: to gradually move us out of one place and into another. Author Nora Gallagher says it’s like taking a journey to a foreign land, and she divides the trip into three parts: waiting, receiving, and afterward. While we wait, we sort through our baggage, filled with worry, guilt, anxiety, and pain. Communion teaches us how to receive—that God’s gift of grace comes to us by doing nothing. Finally, we surrender our invisible baggage and, now lightened, are free to reflect upon and understand the journey we have shared. Gallagher writes,“Every time it is the same, and every time it is different.” This is your family, your table, and act of community—the gathering of the body of Christ.
The Ancient Practices
There is a hunger in every human heart for connection, primitive and raw, to God. To satisfy it, many are beginning to explore traditional spiritual disciplines used for centuries . . . everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance of the Sabbath. Compelling and readable, the Ancient Practices series is for every spiritual sojourner, for every Christian seeker who wants more.Our tidy group of five revealed our initial perceptions about this church ceremony of Communion to reenact the Last Supper and reclaim our focus on Christ. Some are more public and social (outwardly bonding), while others are more private and internal (inwardly bonding). Our book discussion group will certainly help us put organization/words to this 'out of the ordinary' practice in the ensuing weeks.
For next week: Please read chapter 2, pp. 9 - 25. Think about how these question sets relate:
- How does communion build community when it is taken in silence? How does it bond us, moving us "out of one place and into another?"
- When human nature causes us to be attracted to those in power over us, how can communion remind us of another type of power, that of Christ's compassion and vulnerability?