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Psalm 65 & 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
“Among the treasures of the nations are their meal practices. Meals create and express a human group. Meals are complex symbols, not just functional edibles. They are a primary form of culture, passing on the primary values of the group. To know what a people eats, who eats it, in what order and when, is to know a great deal about a society. To know what stories are told at a community’s meals and what symbols function there, passing on what values is to know the heart of a cultures. Meals are, concretely communities and their survival. Meals are far more than simply enough food to get through the next hours. They symbolize and participate in social relationships, hierarchies, inclusion and exclusion, the boundaries around a group and the transactions across those boundaries.”*
Today we wrestle with scriptures around communion.
Jesus instituted the eucharist meal as the source and summit of the Christian life. The term “Eucharist” originates from the Greek word eucharistia, meaning thanksgiving.
So when we share in this meal we give thanks for what the gracious God known by the power of the Spirit in the crucified and risen Jesus has done, is doing and will do. It’s a meal evolved from Jewish and Hellenistic tables practices including the Passover Seder, the deipnon (the evening meal, usually the largest meal of the Ancient Greek day), and the symposium (a social gathering in ancient Greece. where, male citizens would gather for dinner, drinking, conversation, music, and entertainment.)
In 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul is likely speaking to the diverse expectations of the Agape meal – the way in which the early church celebrated communion. It was often confused. Rather than Christ as the center, cultural mores and expectations would be. Paul seems to be saying, that the eucharist meal must be open to all peoples, focused on grace, rejecting the ideas of purity and insiderhood, and by a connection to concern for the poor. When done in that way, centered upon the person, passion and purpose of Jesus – then the meal is a way of both proclaiming and experiencing Jesus.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
• What engaged, enraged, or surprised you in these texts?
• What’s the best meal you’ve ever had? Was it great because of the food; and/or because of the company and conversation?
• Paul talks about eating the communion meal in an unworthy manner. What’s he getting at?
• What invitation do you hear the Spirit of God speaking to you – or to us, as a church – to act, speak, be, or change, through this word of scripture?
* Holy People. A Liturgical Ecclesiology., Gordon W. Lathrop, p.186 (Citation)