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A Holy Charade

An interesting observation in Tim Chester's book A Meal with Jesus suggests that many churches have a charade of a Holy Communion :
Holy Communion should be a feast of friends shared with laughter, tears, prayers, and stories. We celebrate the community life that God gives us through the cross and in the Spirit. We can’t celebrate it with heads bowed and eyes closed, alone in our private thoughts and strangely solitary even as we’re surrounded by other people.
To be sure Chester is not ruling out that Holy Communion can have periods of quite reflection, though such quite reflection is not found in the gospel accounts or Paul's letters. But any such reflection is better practiced within the context of what Chester rightly notes as "laughter, tears, prayers and stories".  I would add songs because there would have been much singing in the Upper Room! 

The key thrust of Chester's observation is that the central thrust of Holy Communion is communion with one another and God. It is a call to celebration of the community life we share in God. This is very much in line with my recent thoughts on Nahum where we see that our call to new life in Christ is fundamentally a call to celebration of God's grace.

Why do many churches veer towards reflection? Undoubtedly, the key reason is that ordinary church folk do not really know how to approach Communion. They just follow what has been done in the past or the preferences of leaders. Sadly, a lot of things done in churches is just tradition without thought to what was originally intended. Jesus must be quite baffled by what goes on in our churches!

While we are on Chester's book, I would definitely commend it to you. Although this is the only Chester book I have ever read, I found his writing style quite refreshing and very engaging. He places us within the scenes of the gospel narratives and makes them come alive!

Chester clearly has studied the role that meals played in Jesus's life and he challenges us to see the same! It is powerfully engaging. I particularly found his reflections on the role meals play in mission and community very useful. His reflections on the Holy Communion was deeply insightful. Wish every church can read them!

The only quibble  with the book is that the treatment of the eschatology and heavenly elements are a little light! Though he helps us see clearly that food is more than just for the stomach, he could have explained more on just how it is that we will still be eating in heaven or in the new earth. I share his interpretations, just a little meat on them would have been good! In general it is a great read.

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