It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means communion in our church. We do it by “intinction” (the less reverent of us refer to it as “rip and dip”) and end with a song. It’s a significant moment in the worship service.
Then as a family, we went to McDonalds with 2 other families to let the kids run wild, in preparation of the looming storm. And there, I took part in communion again, this time – I believe – closer to the intentions of Jesus.
Not that “church communion” is wrong or bad or unnecessary. I would very VERY much miss it if the traditional act disappeared from our order of worship. I need those times of being reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice. While at JSUMC, I came to dwell on the liturgy that says Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ so that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
But while at McDonald’s, over french fries and diet coke, the body of Christ became real to me. Josh was picking up the french fries I spilled. Maddie helped get Miss M’s boot from behind the shoe rack. Jen invited me to feed my family (as well as my soul) in a crockpot cooking date and Lindsay lifted my spirits by making me feel a little more normal. We talked about nothing and everything, probably at the same time. I left in much better shape than I arrived.
Now, irony that we indulged in McDonald’s aside, some thoughts: You know that phrase, “you are what you eat”? Well, that phrase is old. Like, really really old. Old Testament old. My friend Pastor Trevor, who would probably punch me in the neck if I called him by that title to his face, told me about this.
Back in “the day” when people ate whatever they killed and found, it was very un-kosher to eat something that still had the blood in it. Not just because drinking blood was gross, but because they believed if you consumed the blood, you took on the essence of that which was bleeding. If you ate a bleeding goat, you took on the life of that goat. Hence all the food laws and women-in-tents laws and open/gushing-sores laws. So blood was quite the no-no, especially to the most devout.
And then Jesus says “Drink my blood.” Freak. Right?
Unless he really meant something by that. Drink the blood because you’re to become like its source. Take on its essence. Allow the blood to live and move through you.
The way in which you take on his essence is by allowing God to move in the most inner parts of your being. You absorb Him and become like him.
I propose, also, it’s not just what you eat, but with whom you eat it. Jesus didn’t give the Last Supper to the disciples solo – it was part of a communal meal. It was a coming together. I believe that if we’re to take part in true communion* then we need to eliminate the drive-thru spirituality and start sitting down at the table. Allow a friend to hold your baby and get a refill for someone else while you’re getting up.
Because you don’t learn how to love others and become like Jesus in solitary confinement. We get a picture of what we’re looking at by reading the scriptures, but we practice living that out in the presence of others. And when those other people are striving towards a life centered on Jesus, those habits and patterns and acts will begin to rub off onto the ways in which you’re living out Christ’s work in your life. You are what you eat and you become like those around you.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay his life down for his friends (John 15:13).
*And I do prefer the juice to the McNuggets pink ooze.