A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Centrality of the Meal

Eating and drinking are not only necessary to life, but also in human societies most commonly they are communal activities. Human beings enjoy eating and drinking together-- hence the prevalence of those experiences known as banquets, parties, and even regular household meals. The English words companion and company both are formed from two Latin roots meaning "those who share bread" with each other. Persons who must regularly eat alone often report diminished enjoyment of their food, and they sometimes suffer poor nutrition for reasons that have nothing to do with economics. There is simply less incentive to cook a complete meal for one person or to eat a balanced diet when alone. The desire to be together when eating and drinking appears to be a universal human characteristic.


Thus it is hardly surprising that God, who made us and best knows how we are put together, should provide for us a holy meal. Given the misunderstanding in the church for centuries about the meaning of this meal [Eucharist], and given the unexciting way in which it is often conducted, what may be surprising is that we should refer to this meal as a "feast."

In the fullest New Testament tradition, then, eating and drinking with Jesus is enactment: The Eucharist is a feast in which we, with the risen Lord, incarnate the hope we have of a righteous realm in which Christ's sacrificial love destroys barriers among human beings and between humanity and God. To this feast all are invited by God on equal terms.

The meaning of Eucharistic participation is this: We cannot earn from God an invitation to the Table of the Lord. But what is done there is intended to show us God's faithful ways of justice and mercy, and what is received there is meant to strengthen us for responsible and faithful service to God.
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Laurence Hull Stookey, Eucharist: Christ's Feast with the Church, pp. 11-12, 19, 22

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