A friend posted this article on facebook a couple of weeks back. It’s an article about a question and one answer – Why Church? The answer for the author is “Communion.” The author makes some good points like this:
Perhaps the reason many churches look so racially, politically, viciously uniform is the common absence of the Eucharist. Without the meal, you’ve come to hear a word from a Bible scholar who agrees with you. You’ll enjoy free childcare and hear a few (helpful?) announcements. You’ve gathered for the stale cookies, awkward conversations and the musically-inspired emotional high. The meal infuses everything else with perspective and divine power; without it, we may as well go to the mountains.
Of course Jesus’ meals communicated extraordinary truths about his Kingdom. Jesus used meals to break down ethnic boundaries and heal fractured relationships. Jesus’ meals had egalitarian power, elevating outcasts and bringing down the haughty. Through his meals, Jesus showed that purity rituals and exterior signs of holiness were now irrelevant. And of course Jesus used the food before him to unveil his identity and the way God is transforming the world.
Pretty good arguments for communion in church. It is something that makes church unique and at the same time so common we don’t even recognize it.
I had a conversation with a pastor recently about church and communion and liturgy, etc. So often, it seems, that people who aren’t church people think that the liturgy is so weird and unnatural – it might as well be in a foreign language for many people. Many people don’t see the relevance to their lives.
Yet, isn’t it interesting that people see the following situation as rather natural and normal: People gather, greet each other, sit down, talk about an assortment of things, have a meal of food and drink, have a good time, and then go from the place they gathered into the world. Often, they can’t wait to gather again. They may even post pictures of the gathering on social media, tweet about it, and tell others about the gathering. All of this seems so natural and so relevant to daily life.
Now realize that what I described is a typical gathering of young people or friends at a local watering hole. But it could also be church too. The four main parts of the liturgy are:
Of course, there are differences too – the content and reason for gathering. But really, what we do in essence is the same. Liturgy and church are as natural as any gathering with a meal. Maybe not having a meal is what has made church seem so unnatural. It would be like going to someone’s house and they refuse to offer you any food or something to drink. If I did that I would be considered less than a gracious host.
But when it comes to church, we fear doing something that comes natural to us – eating together.
Having said all of this, I also recognize that the whole idea of communion is just that – communion of the people gathered – community. And if communion is going to cause strife and division, would offering communion really enhance the community or be good worship? Tough call. Then again, when’s the last time you’ve been to a Thanksgiving meal with your family and there wasn’t some kind of argument over the course of the day?
Just some food for thought.