One of the interesting discoveries you make in reading Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was that the “Lord’s Supper” was a real meal! That’s what we learned last Sunday in Pastor Rich’s message on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. And that was the problem! The meal that was meant to remind them of their unity and equality in Christ became a cause for division because the rich indulged themselves with the food they brought while the poor who could bring little watched others eat while they went hungry.
Rich talked about how our worship is a time of “going together”–that as we move toward God we move toward each other. And the “Lord’s Supper” or Eucharist is meant to be a meal that celebrates our common salvation in Christ–that the things that distinguish us in the rest of life should not distinguish us when we “go together” with others in the church. No one should get special treatment. There should be no “in crowd”. And it seems that this is the case, particularly in our threefold communion times where a teenager may wash the feet of an elderly person, where we all equally share the food, and where the bread and cup are distributed to all.
It is worthwhile asking if distinctions creep in at other times and draw us apart. The fact that we are young and old, from different ethnic backgrounds, and do enjoy differing degrees of economic success–do these ever crop up and divide us? The fact that we are quite diverse seems to be a good thing. But do we value difference, even when we are not sure what value people who are different from us bring to our body? Unity and equality in Christ don’t mean we are all the same. Rather unity and equality mean we are all different and yet equally valuable. We all are equal at the cross–all of us needed Jesus death. And we are one by sharing in common Christ’s death for us, reflected in the bread and cup we share. We don’t have to create unity by eliminating diversity.
Rich asked us to reflect on “In what ways am I neglecting the needs of others and thinking about myself?” It strikes me that one way I do this is when I fail to value those most different from me in our congregation enough to even know what they need, or whether they are in need. Sometimes though, what people need most is not to have a need met, but to have their uniqueness affirmed as important. What a terrible loss it would be if someone’s unique gifts went unnoticed. That’s my application–to try with Christ’s grace to break out of my self-absorption enough to be a person who notices.