This month, I’d like to use this space to begin meditating on an important aspect of “Worshipping Jesus,” namely, the Lord’s Supper. Week after week we participate in this meal the Lord Jesus has given to us, and yet, what is really going on in this“eating and drinking?”
This month, I’d like to simply launch the topic through a lengthy quote from a book that I’ve been reading. The book is titled Remembrance, Communion, and Hope by J. Todd Billings. I’ve not finished it, so I can’t yet give it a hearty endorsement, but what I’ve read I’ve enjoyed and been challenged by.
I found the following quote thought-provoking because it speaks to the power of the symbols and rituals in our culture to define us. Everyone in the world has desires and habits that are formed by what they choose to participate in. As Christians, we are called to a new story, an other-worldly one.
The church is filled with symbols and rituals that can shape our identity, moving us into a narrative that is bigger than we could conjure up ourselves. In the gathering of a people, prayer and praise, proclamation of the Word, the washing with and feeding upon the Word in baptism and the Supper, we taste God’s new world. We will always be “of” the world. Yet as our imaginations are fired with God’s new world, the symbolic world of consumer culture around us begins to look strange. Specifically, as we feed upon on our new, gospel-defined identity in preaching and the Lord’s Supper, a different symbolic narrative comes into view: what we previously thought was “freedom” is bondage, what we thought was “healing” is sickness. In light of Christ’s reign, “freedom” is not mainly about the absence of constriction but is about the positive harmony with God and neighbor that the Spirit enables. “Healing” is not restoration so we can go our own way, but is a redirection of our misdirected desires toward loving God and our neighbor. It is not sufficient to simply say “no” to the shaping symbolic culture, such as consumer culture. A fuller way of resistance is to enter into a different world of symbols and rituals, shaped by the Spirit, participating in Christ’s reign The Lord’s Supper, as a foretaste of the wedding banquet of the Lamb and His Bride, gives us a taste of God’s new world.
As we are intent on letting the Word shape us each Lord’s Day, may we also be changed by the weekly spiritual feeding on Christ who is our life.