The Lord’s Supper.

Not the Last Supper, as in the final dinner Jesus ate with His disciples the night he was betrayed. That meal was actually a Passover seder, a meal celebrating the Jewish Passover. And we Gentiles don’t really celebrate it–it’s a Jewish thing (though we can celebrate it if we want).

From that meal, the Lord’s Supper was instituted as Jesus asked His disciples to remember Him as often as they ate the Passover bread and drank the Passover “wine” (and, just for the record, I’m pretty sure that the wine here was grape juice, but that’s another topic for another time). By doing so on a regular, though unspecified, basis we are “showing the Lord’s death till He come” the apostle Paul explains in I Corinthians 11. In that passage, Paul explains the procedure for the Corinthian believers because they’d gotten things very much mixed up and needed some further instruction.

I Corinthians 11:23-32 is read in many churches as often as the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. But it’s I Corinthians 10:17 that I want to talk about right now:” For we [being] many are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” Paul is here referring to the church and explaining to the Corinthian believers their relationship to one another and to God. Look at that again. “We being many are one bread, and one body.” While the church is commonly referred to as the body of Christ, it hadn’t occurred to me to think of the church itself as I partook of those broken little pieces of matzah each month. We being many are one body.

How appropriate. That the Church should be represented as broken pieces of bread–bread, might I add, that represents the body of Christ. Because we are broken. There is not a single one of us that is not broken somehow. And coming to church, being made a part of the body of Christ does not completely change that. Not yet. Someday it will be different. Someday we will be whole and complete and well and Just Like Christ Himself. But for now, we will still run up against our infirmities and our weaknesses. We are the body of Christ.

And we show His death till He returns. We show it by our honesty. By accepting the limitations God allows in our lives. By taking His hand and walking through all those things He describes in II Corinthians 12:10–infirmities (weakness, sickness); reproaches (being misunderstood or misrepresented); necessities (times when there just isn’t enough); persecutions (outright attack or injustice); distresses (mental and emotional anguish). Are not all of these things for His sake when we have set ourselves to follow Him no matter where it may lead? Why is it that I always expect the way to be prettier than it really turns out to be? Basically, all of these things involve a kind of death, and [as C. S. Lewis put it in The Pilgrim’s Regress] we must meet death here on earth in many ways and many forms. What better way do we have of showing His Death until He comes than by walking through it?

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[Note: the brokenness I am talking about here is not the kind of brokenness that the Church is often blamed for, the brokenness of hypocrisy that refuses to let Jesus see into our broken souls but pretending that we are pious and well and better than the rest of humanity: we don’t quit being broken by ignoring our true selves. Well, I suppose I am talking about that kind, too, come to think of it. Jesus can only begin to untwist what is bent and twisted inside if we let Him come in and see the damage. But this letting Him come in and see and fix is a lifelong process. Wholeness starts by knowing you are broken.]

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