When we hear “communion” or “eucharist” or “the Lord’s Supper” we think of the Sunday sacrament. Today, it’s celebrated with a small morsel of bread and a bit of wine. But, in the 1st-century, it was a complete meal that brought God’s kingdom into the present. Whereas, today, we think of communion as something personal (me and Jesus), the biblical image is one of justice and equality. It was an image of community life, rather than individualistic piety, where God has already started to put things right.
- The prophet Isaiah had a vision of what the world will look like when God comes to put everything right. It will be a grand banquet where all nations recognize the God of Israel and he brings justice to the world by making sure there is enough for everyone. This is Isaiah’s Kingdom of God.
- The early church, as preached by Paul, made Isaiah's future Kingdom a present reality through table-fellowship. By including everyone in this meal, who was willing to submit to the Law and live as if circumcised in heart, they were able to demonstrate the community’s communion with God and one another.
- However, this communion was threatened by both Judean and Gentile culture. The Judeans threatened it by insisting that Gentiles practice Judean observances of the Law, such as circumcision, Sabbath-keeping, and food-laws. The Gentiles threatened it by insisting on celebrating table-fellowship through Roman banquet practices that divided people into stations.
- However, when everyone partakes of the same bread—that is, the teaching given to us by Christ, which is the bread of life—then it’s possible to overcome the obstacles and bring the kingdom into the present.
What is The Way?
Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.