Arthur at “The Voice Of One Crying Out In Suburbia” has been quoting from the book A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester. His latest post is “The high point of our life together as the people of God.”
In this post, Arthur quotes several paragraphs from the book. This struck me as very close to what have I learned about meals and “the Lord’s Supper.” So, I’ve decided to quote a large part of what Arthur quoted.
(You can jump to Arthur’s post to read the rest of his quote.)
The bread and wine in the New Testament are part of a meal. Luke says of the Jerusalem church, “Breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). Commentators often can’t decide whether this refers to meals in general or Communion. That’s because we assume they’re two different things. We think of a meal taking place around a dining table at home while we think of Communion as a solemn rite in a church building. But in Jerusalem followers of Jesus ate meals together in their homes, eating bread, drinking wine, remembering Jesus, and celebrating the community he created through his death.
These were feasts of friends. Some in the church in Corinth were abusing the meals, but Paul doesn’t tell them to separate the bread and wine from the meal. Quite the opposite. He tells them to wait for one another so they can eat the meal together. Communion should be a feast of friends shared with laughter, tears, prayers, and stories. We celebrate the community life that God gives us through the cross and in the Spirit. We can’t celebrate it with heads bowed and eyes closed, alone in our private thoughts and strangely solitary even as we’re surrounded by other people.
When we recapture the Lord’s Supper as a feast of friends, celebrated as a meal in the presence of the Spirit, then it will becomes something we earnestly desire. It will become the high point of our life together as the people of God. In this sad and broken world, the Lord’s Supper is a moment of joy, because it is a moment of the future.
I love that phrase “feast of friends”… what the early church called “the love feast.”
There is no instance of the bread/wine of “The Lord’s Supper”/”Communion”/”Eucharist” being mentioned in the New Testament when it is not part of a meal. In fact, when you read the New Testament, the activity that early Christians took part in together more often than any other is eating meals together. (Note: They may have participated in some other activity more often, but that activity is not recorded as often.)
The church lost something important when the meal was reduced to a ritual. The church can regain what was lost by starting to eat meals together again.