Formations 04.14.2024: That One Meal

1 Corinthians 10:15-22

I’ve participated in the Lord’s Supper dozens of times since I became a Christian at age ten. Before that, I wasn’t allowed to take part; it was reserved for those who had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. In my Baptist church, this was done by believing in Jesus, accepting his sacrifice on the cross, and promising to commit to his Way for the rest of my life. I talked to our pastor, stood in front of the whole church one Sunday morning so the pastor could share my decision, and then waited there with my parents so the congregation could come by and welcome me as an official church member. A few weeks later, I was baptized—lowered into a full tub of water by my pastor and raised back up, soaking wet, to “newness of life.” Now that I had made a personal decision for Christ and then shared it publicly, I was able to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

Children can certainly have faith. In many ways, my faith then was much purer, simpler, more innocent. I had not yet experienced difficult relationships, the death of a family member, temptations around alcohol and sex, or the extent of suffering in the world. When I took the Lord’s Supper as a ten-year-old child, it was a bland wafer that melted on my tongue followed by a tablespoon of grape juice. It was just a ritual, but I could finally take part!

Adulthood changed the Lord’s Supper for me, as I’m sure it does for many of us. I could picture Jesus and his disciples—his closest friends on earth—reclined around the table for a meal like they had enjoyed so many times together, daylight streaming through the room or oil lamps lighting the spread of food and drink. I imagine they had many such meals, some with laughter and joy and others with serious talks and burdens brought on by a mission that seemed impossible.

I can picture that one Passover meal where the mood shifted from a remembrance of the past to a solemn awareness of the present. Instead of the usual ceremonial meal honoring God’s saving of the Israelites centuries before, Jesus took two elements, bread and wine, and created a new ritual symbolizing his purpose as the Messiah.

Everything changed. In the Gospels, we read that the rest of the night spiraled into betrayal, fear, desertion, injustice, and pain. The Lord’s Supper brings up those emotions and feelings, helping us remember the magnitude of Jesus’s sacrifice and give thanks for what he did. Paul wrote the Corinthians, who apparently were misusing the Lord’s Supper, and reminded them that it is a “sharing” in Jesus’s blood and body (v. 16). When we take the Lord’s Supper together, may we remember that. Let’s share in the magnitude of what Jesus did for us and then live according to his Way.

Discussion

• When did you first take the Lord’s Supper? How has its meaning evolved for you over the years?
• Some churches serve the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. Some do it quarterly and others even less. Do you think there is an ideal number of times for this ritual within the church year? Does it ever become so familiar that it loses meaning?
• Why do you think Paul focused on the “sharing” aspect of the Lord’s Supper? Why is community so important when we wish to follow Jesus?
• How can you prepare yourself for the next time you take part in the Lord’s Supper so that it retains the meaning Jesus gave it and helps you celebrate your shared Christian community?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University (BA in English, 2000), has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theatre productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she always has one book going and several more waiting to be read!

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