Sunday, May 06, 2007

Breaking Bread

This morning we shared communion. Although communion has always been significant for me theologically and at times has been a moving experience, I have always felt that there was something more to it than just remembering Jesus' broken body and shed blood by using a symbolic cup and a wafer. These small symbols seem to be missing the substance of the "table." In some churches communion is a heavy, somber, significant event to be lingered over. In others it is more matter of fact - a necessary observance but done almost perfunctorily - let's just get it over with. I think both of these extremes seem to miss the point.

Now I am not really questioning the theological significance of communion. Jesus' body was broken for us and his blood shed and we are to remember that by the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine (For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Cor 11:26). My real question is how did we get to the point of making the meal symbolic instead of real. How did we separate the most significant of events from our daily lives and isolate it into a once a month symbolic observance? Jesus revealed the significance of the bread and the wine at his last supper - which was a Passover meal - a meal that normally is a feast that last hours (if not days). How did it become a five or ten minute addendum to a Sunday morning church service?

Have you ever noticed how significant meal times were for Jesus? He goes to have a meal with Simon the Pharisee and has a sinful woman pour oil over Jesus' feet and Jesus shows that he is God by forgiving sin. He invites himself over to Zacchaeus' house and a transformation happens in the life of a tax collector. He does his first miracle at a wedding feast so the host is not embarrassed and the guests can continue to celebrate (and as the Scripture explains - that his glory may be revealed). There is something about Jesus that makes the mundane divine - something that turns common space into sacred space - something that takes the daily events of life and shows us eternity. Jesus took the mundane event of eating and drinking and made it into a life transforming event.

Jesus was so earthy in his application of truth and we have made it unearthly - separating it from daily life and daily significance. I think we need to be remembering him every time we break bread or have a drink. When we butter our toast and drink our coffee or orange juice in the morning, do it remembrance of him. In our power lunches, as the breadsticks are served and a glass of water is placed on the table - do it in remembrance of him. As we gather around the table and have dinner as a family and the gravy is poured over the potatoes, do it in remembrance of him.

If we remembered his death and resurrection every time we put a piece of food or a drop of drink into our mouths, if we examined ourselves every time we sat down to eat, if every time we celebrated a meal with friends we considered that he was broken to make us whole, would not our common places become sacred and our Christianity display the integrity of our daily devotion to the one who died and was raised again for us? Maybe then we wouldn't be so prone to overeat, or so prone to forget the little ones in our world who starve to death every day. Maybe our business deals would be done with greater honesty and integrity and wouldn't defraud the poor or the widow or the orphan. Maybe our family life would be conducted with more love and consideration and our marriages would not be crippled by such a lack of communication and forgiveness.

Do this in remembrance of me.

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