When’s a Meal Not a Meal?
I am often times amazed at the fact that when the early followers of Christ came together they always gathered around a table. This table was where they would eat and enjoy the presence of one another and Jesus. It is remarkable when you think about the difference that most of us find ourselves in when we gather with other followers. Too often the discussion turns to an us versus them situation where we are worshiping our proper understanding of theology as opposed to the risen Christ.
What I love about the mystery of the Lord’s table is that it shapes us and reminds us of our in-Christness. When we fellowship at this table it is for the one who claims Jesus as Lord. When we gather the walls melt between us. We are caught up in the mystery and beauty of grace. We are found out to be sinners who need a savior and we are found to be a part of a community of forgiven saints.
The table reminds us of our identity, of who we actually are. Consider the words that St. Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 11:23–26,
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
How does these brief words of institution shape us?
- They remind us that Jesus suffered (he was betrayed and his body was broken).
- They remind us that Jesus suffered for us (his was for us).
- They remind us that Jesus offered a new covenant (one of grace, mercy, and forgiveness).
- They remind us that Jesus calls to a proclamation of his death.
Consider communities of people in the way of following Christ who grabbed hold of these truths and lived them daily? What would that look like? How might that bring transformation to themselves (1–3) and those near them (4)?
The supper reminds us that we are a people who for whom one suffered, died, offers a new way, and sends us to invite others in. This is us. This is a piece of what it means to be in-Christ.
When is a meal not a meal? When it’s a transformer.