Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Body Broken - Ch 6

Spring Break is nearly gone and it has been a week since my last post - I find that while I like change and variety I tend to function more productively in routine. In chapter 6 Jack describes a very fragmented church as illustrated in Paul's letter to the Corinthians. There are several issues dividing the Christians in Corinth - moral issues, legal issues, ego issues, doctrinal issues - that manifest themselves in the Corinthians' observance of the Lord's supper.

He makes the observation that the other churches that Paul wrote to were at odds with the prevailing culture, but that the church in Corinth existed peacefully with and was more or less a reflection of the local community. He states that in the absence of tensions with outsiders the church quarreled among themselves. In many ways the church today often resembles the church in Corinth - a microcosm of the community with an internal focus, energies consumed with debating our differences.

Ironically, the only example in the New Testament of a church participating in the Lord's Supper is an example of how not to in the Corinthian church. Paul chastizes the Corinthians for being self-centered, for being oblivious of one another - the body, for dishonoring the cross. He tells them to wait for one another, to serve one another, to care for one another, to be aware of each other. In doing so, they would embody the cross until Christ comes again.


Last night's discussion in the Rotunda class culminated in a discussion of the significance of the Lord's Supper. As a group we identified a number of actions/attitudes that are aspects of our participation - among those that I can recall:
  • Remembering
  • Thanksgiving
  • Communing
  • Discerning
  • Anticipating
  • Celebrating
  • Eating/Drinking
  • Proclaiming

One concept that struck me as significant in our conversation is the need for balance. One of the problems with the Corinthian church was a focus on eating and drinking while neglecting the communal aspect. I think that we often do the same thing with remembering - we focus so somberly on Jesus' sacrifice on our own behalf that we neglect the communal aspects - discerning the body, celebrating, proclaiming.

Jon Mark Hicks addresses this issue in his book Come to the Table. We have learned to treat the communion table as an altar - focusing on our personal response to the sacrifice - to the near exclusion of the communal feast that celebrates the resurrection. God calls us to His table to feast together with His children - our brothers and sisters - that Jesus died to save.

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