Sunday, January 1, 2012

Communion Cogitations



I generally avoid theological type musings on my blog, mostly because I’m not a theologian. So don’t be confused because actually this is just Roxanne type musing that may sound vaguely theological. Furthermore these are personal reflections and do not necessarily represent the views of my church or ministry.
It came to me during communion this morning in church. I’m sitting there by myself holding my little cup of grape juice and my tiny cracker. And suddenly, deeper symbolism notwithstanding, it seemed kind of lonely.
I’m well aware of all the practical and sanitary reasons for 300 people drinking from individual cups instead of a common one. And yet…
My little personal cup at that moment seemed to me to represent the isolationism of our modern culture. A culture where we aren’t that personal with the individual next to us, whether it’s next to us in the pew or in our neighborhood. We want our own space. Our privacy. Our own food. Our own germs and our own problems, thank you very much.
But (and here is where my mind went off down the path) in this process have we gotten more spiritually sterile and isolated as well?
There seems to be a dearth of Americans sharing real life, real problems, over real food together. “Community” has turned into visiting with each other superficially on the fly at church meetings, events, soccer games, our kids’ school activities, or on the job. And then we get back in our own cars, and drive to our own home, and go in and shut the door, where we eat, work, pray and cry alone.
Like a tiny communion cup for one. Like a little personal cracker that is unbroken and unshared.
The original concept of breaking one piece of bread and sharing one cup is a picture of a completely different lifestyle. It shows believers sharing the living Bread of Life that is Jesus, but also, simply eating and being together in ordinary life. It’s not a picture of the once-a-year-I-cleaned-the-house-all-week-and-cooked-expensive-food-all-day-for-a-company-meal-that-leaves-me-exhausted kind of eating together, but more of the spur-of-the-moment-come-on-over-and-eat-leftovers-off-paper-plates-with-me-cause-we-just-want-to-be-together kind of meal.
Jesus was broken for us. We can be broken with each other too.
I’ve had more organic versions of the Lord’s Supper, some of them in other countries, and some of them my own living room here in America with friends. We break a single piece of bread and pass it around. We all drink out of the same cup. And something happens. I’m not talking about transubstantiation (you know I had to look that up). It’s the same kind of thing that happens when people eat a meal together. Walls come down.
I think Jesus was onto this concept, way before the Last Supper example. He ate with lots of folks. Friends, prostitutes, tax collectors, huge crowds. And the religious people didn’t like it. Because Jesus was sharing more than food. He was sharing lives with those He ate with. He was demonstrating acceptance and commonality. He was breaking down walls. Sharing germs with sinners.
Way friendlier than Him eating all by Himself. I kind of have trouble picturing him passing out the little plastic communion cups to the disciples too.
So what’s my conclusion? Not sure if I have one.
Except that you just never know what that reverently bowing missionary in the chair behind you is thinking during the communion service.

3 comments:

  1. interesting point of view. I like togetherness too, even if it means shared germs (and I am a germ freak!). Here in France, they have the little plastic cups and a common cup. Several people choose the common cup. It's kinda cool. There's also a loaf of bread that gets torn up into pieces right before. I like community and really understand missing it and feeling lonely sometimes for lack of it. We'll be sure to get in some paper plate hang outs while we're in town. ;) Love you!

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  2. I agree, I have been having those discussions with the Lord as well. It seems so isolated in our society. i remember in college, being dirt poor, friends would get together an share a meal and hang out. As we have grown older and earned more money, we dont do that anymore. Things now have to be be planned and produced and friends fit around seemingly busy schedules. I long for a more simpler time where we know our neighbors and the intamacy and spotenaity is back. And I think you are on to something poingant about the spiritual aspect. We do seem very pristine in our approach to God. All I know is I will be reflecting on some things. Thank you!

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  3. I'm sitting here in downtown Dallas with a room full of parent an recruits waiting to ship off to boot camp. After reading your article I had such an intense desire to share communion with everyone here. Challenge...we only have coffee an cookies...maybe that will work. Roxanne, your simple insight is profound. Thanks for sharing. Allen

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