“You’ll stay in your room all night until you apologize to your brother, even if it means missing dinner.” I heard this line a time or two when I was younger. My little brother and I didn’t always see eye to eye—weird, I know—and so we would get in fights. But being the older sibling, of course it was my responsibility to be the bigger person and apologize. Sometimes I was so hungry that I would apologize just so I could join the rest of the family for dinner. Other times, my stubbornness kept me famished in my room alone for the evening.
At first glance, our passage for reflection today, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, seems like a pleasant reminder of the words we proclaim before partaking in the sacrament of communion, otherwise known as the Lord’s Supper. To be honest, many of us would like to leave it at that. But if you read the verses before and after these words of institution, you’ll find Paul has a very different message. “I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you…” He continues, “…So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat.” Ouch. Paul isn’t messing around.
In other words, Paul is saying this: “Don’t you dare come to the Table before you reconcile with your brother or sister. If you do, that would be sinning against God.” I think I’ve got some reconciling to do.
The sacrament of communion, of coming to the Table is a sacred act—one that requires that we make every effort to be right with God which means being right with others, also. Though it involves very ordinary elements of bread and juice, we know it is not just bread and juice. It is a meal of remembrance, celebration, and reconciliation. And while all are welcome to the Table, we ought to check our attitudes before eating. Take a few moments the next time you are offered to participate in this meal to reflect on your relationship with God and others lest you be locked in your room without supper.
1.Think about the practice of communion in your community of faith. Are there opportunities to practice reconciliation with your brothers and sisters as part of that practice?
2.How might this reflection on the practice of communion influence the general act of eating together with your family? What are ways your family could practice reconciliation with one another over a meal?
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Grace and Peace.