Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 80

FOOD AS A SYMBOL OF GRACE - Harper close my eyes and think this is about me and Jesus. Not in this passage. What’s going on here? Any thoughts? Man 5: They’re having a party or something, the Eucharist. They are celebrating but are excluding others as part of it. And they’re merry and happy while others are onlooking. BH: And who are they excluding? T he poor. They’re excluding those who don’t have food to eat. Paul is very upset about this. Everybody would understand this in the early church because they basically celebrated the Lord’s Supper every day in the earlier centuries. In Acts, it says how they met together in each other’s homes daily and were eating together. That’s the Eucharist, not just a meal. Because the way they would celebrate the Eucharist is they would have a meal, basically a potluck—agape meal. People would bring what they had; they would sit down and love each other and eat. In the midst of it, an elder of the church would stand up and break bread and say the words of the Lord’s Supper, “This is my body, which is broken for you” (1 Cor 11:24). They would have the Eucharist in the midst of this meal that is about caring for each other. Eventually after a couple of centuries, the meal goes away and you just have the symbolic meal and you’re not eating together any more. But in the early church, they would be doing this. So what you would have had is the poor, who had to work longer than the others, would come to the meal and nobody pays attention to them. You have these people who have plenty who are eating and they’re ignoring those who don’t have as much. Paul is saying to them, “How in the world can you do this when this meal you’re celebrating is about the one who gave everything he had for you, and yet you’re not even paying attention to the poor around you in this meal? For this reason, God is judging you.” This is about the horizontalness of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is always meant to be not just focused on God but on community, horizontal other-centeredness. Food as a Symbol of God’s Own Sacrifice Finally, food is a symbol of God’s own sacrifice. Bread is again seen as the basic sustainer of life. God allows his life to be broken for us in the incarnation. He becomes living bread, much more than manna from heaven. Remember the showbread, God’s invitation to eat? Remember the story of the disciples being amazed by Jesus after the resurrection? For some reason 77