Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA
"Do this in remembrance of me," the apostle wrote to the believers in Corinth, calling this church to keep its focus upon the One who had brought it together as a body, the One who had died that they might live. That church in Corinth was notoriously forgetful. Earlier in his letter to them, Paul reminded them of their beginnings.
"Consider your own call, brothers and sisters," Paul wrote. "Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ĎLet the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.í" (1 Cor. 1:26-31)
Appropriate words for April Foolís Day, wouldnít you say?
Those folks in Corinth needed that reminder because they had forgotten that in the supposed foolishness of God they were the body of Christ. When they gathered around the Lordís table they only looked out for "number one." Instead of sharing their loaves and fishes with everyone as that little boy had done many years before, they shared their food only with their own family and friends. The less fortunate were left hungry and humiliated at what was supposed to be a feast of Godís Love in Christ. Talk about real foolishness!
The people of God in Corinth had lost sight of Jesus, and what he had accomplished upon the cross, and because of this they couldnít discern, they couldnít see that they - the rich and poor together - were Christís body. In selfishness, they were eating and drinking judgement against themselves, foolishly weakening the body, tearing apart what God had created. No wonder there was dis-ease and illness among them. If you wonít share your bread with your brother, do you think God will listen to your prayer for him?
Amid Paulís words about the gifts of the Spirit later in that same letter, he reminded them and us that, "the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we are to clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are to be treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body," he goes on, "giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it." He concludes, "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (12:22-27)
Communion is no individual affair, where each takes a piece of the bread of life and goes off to some corner to eat it alone. As Brethren, we place the breaking of bread and the drinking from Christís cup into the context of a Love Feast, where we are gathered face to face around the Lordís table. We may have disagreements with the brother or sister across from us. We may not travel in the same circles out in the workaday world. We may come from very different places in life. But around this table, we are Christís body, as foolish as that may sound. We break bread together. We drink from the cup in unity. We remember as one body the One body that was broken for all of us, the blood that was shed for all of us, upon the cross of Calvary.
"The message about the cross," Paul also wrote to the believers in Corinth and to us, "is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1:18) Around these tables, as we share the bread and the cup together, "we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to (some) and foolishness to (others), but to those who are called," who have gathered together in his name, no matter who they are or where they came from, this crucified Christ we proclaim is "the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength." (1 Cor. 1:23-25)
Come, brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, "Let us break bread together..."
©1999Peter L. Haynes
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