This week, Erica shared on the Lord’s Supper and what it means for us as Anabaptists. As she acknowledges, there is a lot of debate on this issue. Even as we as a community celebrate with an open table, that position is not completely consistent with the article we read form the Mennonite Confession, and even our own community has differing views on this practice. Erica, however, focuses specifically on two communion emphases, remembrance and communal embodiment. In both of these, we dare even call this a sacrament, a way of practicing and participating in the presence of God through the active symbolic practice of holistic reconciliation with God and others.
First, we eat the physical bread and drink wine to remember what Jesus did for us. We remember that he gave his life out of love for his creation, to make all the brokenness right, to be in right relationship with us again…. When we put the bread in our mouths, we call to mind the beautiful and broken savior. The ordinariness of chewing and swallowing becomes infused with the memory of divine love, and it becomes a sacrament where the daily and the earthly are infused with the presence of God.”
And then she offers the communal reality:
The Second and most distinctive part of the Anabaptist understanding of communion is that this practice and experience is a celebration of the body of Christ, of the community. By coming to the table, each member of the community is expressing her or his commitment to all other members of the community. And we celebrate the unity that we have together. We are testifying together that we are the body of Christ. The name communion represents this, this communion or shared life that we have together.
There is much in this sermon (so give it a listen), but as we meditate on this this week, we are doing this in a time of preparation, both personal and communal (and they are not disassociated). We are entering into a period of reconciliation, and we are asking that in preparation for approaching the table you actively engage in reconciliation with the community. Are there those with whom you have broken relationship? Lay down your sacrifice and seek them out first.
Reconciliation is messy. The assumption here is not that we will solve all of our problems in a week, but we ask that you seek reconciliation. We also ask that you proceed in a healthy manner, but do not use difficulty as an excuse for not reconciling. I think we all acknowledge that this is difficult. It takes courage, and you may not find reconciliation even though seeking it, but do not shy away because it is difficult.
How can we be a people of reconciliation, of peace and justice in this world, if we cannot be a people of peace, justice, and reconciliation among ourselves?
Erica also said quite aptly:
Communion is not just a whatever symbol. It is a representation of our hearts and of our relationships with the rest of the body.
So let us this week, not let communion be a “whatever symbol.” Seek reconciliation.
(Also included at the end is our confession and assurance for your own meditation.)
We have also been left with these two questions to ponder.
- How does this Anabaptist understanding of the Lord’s Supper refocus or shape your understanding of what the Lord’s Supper is?
- Where are places that your relationships diverge from the picture that Jesus paints for us at the table?
For convenience sake, there is also a podcast available. You can find that here.