In a culture swimming in hyper-individualism, political division, and chronic loneliness, the sacraments jolt us back to the inextricable reality of our new family in Christ. They affirm not only that we individually belong to Christ, but that we corporately belong to one another.
The Disney placemats are set. Then come the purple and green polypropylene plates (try saying that three times fast). There are still hands to wash, bibs to put on, utensils to grab, and sippy cups to search for throughout the house. Oh yeah, and Mom and Dad still need some food, too. But, in due time, the table is finally set, hands are joined, a prayer is said, and we begin.
This is the current daily routine for Hannah and I when dinnertime rolls around. Every day leading up to that hour looks a little different. I sometimes imagine our kids huddling up in the morning to dole out which of them (if not all of them) will be the one to not take a nap, or which one will volunteer as the day’s distinguished Button Pusher.
Despite how the variables of the day have played out, it is this evening rhythm that gets us in the same room, around the same table, to share the same meal. There is something about that tiny window of time between the “Amen” and those first bites of dinner that is sacred, perhaps even sacramental. It’s my favorite part of the meal. In that brief pause, each of us are daily brought back to reality, and reminded of what we cannot afford to forget: we belong to God and to one another.
There is another space of life where you and I get in on this moment. Here, there are no bibs to disperse or placemats to set. But we find ourselves again at a table. His table. We pause, clutching the bread, carefully holding the cup. We confess, we pray, we praise. All around the table, as we take the bread and the cup, we remember and proclaim: we belong to God, and to one another.
Trouble in Corinth
The Church at Corinth needed a wake-up call. Badly. They earned the longest two letters Paul wrote in the New Testament. In his first letter to Corinth, Paul addresses a host of issues: sexual immorality, selfishness, lawsuits against one another, and other divisions in the church. But Paul spends a great deal of time rebuking their treatment of the Lord’s Supper.
Prior to this, it seemed that some from the Corinthian church were eating meals within pagan temples. These temples would make animal sacrifices to false gods but would also be the spot used for hosting various dinner parties and banquets. The people felt it was their “right” to eat wherever they desired; but Paul disagrees. He tells them that it is inappropriate to eat such food in such places, as it seems to be sympathetic toward the world’s idols and could cause a fellow brother or sister in Christ to stumble in their conscience. This contributed to rifts being formed among certain factions of believers in Corinth.