Due to a power outage at the church yesterday, today’s devotion was unable to be scheduled for its normal delivery time. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Key verse: (33) So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
Reflection: Wine or grape juice? Wafers or loaves of bread? Gluten-free? Walk forward to receive or kneel at the rail or pass silver trays in the pews? The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper takes different forms and methods but Jesus Christ is always present with us. The sacrament is the “visible sign of an invisible grace.” It’s a reminder that we can see, touch and taste, reminding us that Jesus Christ is with us and nourishes us spiritually.
Apparently the Christians in the city of Corinth were going rogue with the Lord’s Supper. Paul heard about their behavior and wrote “I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.” The Corinthians were focused on themselves, even at the Lord’s Supper. Maybe it was like a big potluck supper: the first in the line were heaping their plates overflowing and the latecomers had to scrape the leftover morsels from the corners of the casserole dishes. The sacrament, intended to be a “communion” with our Lord, had become distorted by selfishness. The sacrament, intended to create community among all guests at the Lord’s table, was a sign of sin rather than grace. The community was fractured and broken so Paul claims that “when you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper.” You can’t claim this is the Lord’s table if you act like it belongs to you. You can’t claim this is the Lord’s supper if you aren’t showing care for those around you. You can’t claim this is a sacrament if you are distorting the sacred with your selfishness.
Paul challenged the Corinthians to reexamine themselves so that they are worthy of the sacrament. That challenge led some of our spiritual ancestors to use communion tokens distributed by the church elders only to those deemed worthy to receive the bread and wine. Now, honestly, we realize that none of us are worthy to be a guest at the Lord’s table. We aren’t invited because we are worthy, but because the Lord is gracious. But we can’t completely ignore Paul’s concern. How does the Lord’s Supper transform us? How does it encourage us to turn from selfishness toward love? How does the bread and wine create community that transcends any factions or divisions we might have?
Prayer: Gracious God, you have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth. You have fed us with the bread of life, and renewed us for your service. Help us who have shared Christ’s body and received his cup, to be his faithful disciples so that our daily living may be part of the life of your kingdom, and our love be your love reaching out into the life of the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
(Prayer from the PCUSA Book of Common Worship, 1993, p. 77)
(Join us for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. when we will gather in Oxford Hall to remember Christ’s last meal with the disciples.)
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].