Today’s ordinary Catholic mass or mainline Protestant communion service bears little resemblance to what we can glean from the New Testament about the first celebrations of Jesus’ presence in the breaking of the bread. Arguments that have divided denominations over the question of the relationship between the blessed bread and the whereabouts of Jesus would certainly have seemed strange and irrelevant to the first ekklÄ“siai. The New Testament speaks simply, both in the Gospels and in other writings, of memory and presence without theological elaboration. Because of our modern historical obsession with what one might call “left-brain” (rational) inquiries about a “right-brain” (affective) experience, we have often lost the essence of what Jesus intended and Paul understood about the Eucharist. (Wes Howard-Brook, The Church Before Christianity, New York: Orbis Books, 2004, p. 50)
Is the author correct? Would our arguments and disagreements concerning “The Lord’s Supper” or “The Eucharist” or “Communion” seem strange and irrelevant to the first churches? Are they, in fact, irrelevant today?