Wine. Good wine. That’s what communion with God means to me. See, if I’m not mistaken, Jesus did not come and give us any sacred rituals. As a matter of fact, he went out of his way to subvert the whole idea of a sacred/ common duality of life.
For instance, lets take the story of John’s record of Jesus’ first miracle. His coming out as it were. See, Jesus knew how to have a good time; he was commonly labeled a glutton and a drunkard after all. So, while he was at a wedding, he found himself in the awful situation of having the wine run out.
Was this unusual? I dare say not. Actually, I find that if you open a bottle of wine and drink from it, it will run out. As a matter of fact, every other wedding Jesus attended before and after found themselves in the same situation; the party that could have lasted a day or two, or three, has finally come to an end. We are not told that this was going to be an issue, or that the wine had run dry earlier than was expected. It’s funny, I always assumed that the only reason Jesus would do this miracle was because some how the bridegroom was going to be disgraced. I don’t see that any thing unusual was happening this time.
The other thing that I never really took notice of before was the fact that the water that Jesus turned into wine was water that was set aside for the sacred act of ceremonial cleansing. See, any devout Jew would have to go through a ritual cleansing whenever they became unclean. How did they become unclean? By bumping into someone who was unclean; or bumping into someone who bumped into someone who was unclean; or by sitting on a seat which was sat on by someone unclean. How often did someone become unclean? Well they had six stone water pots that held twenty or thirty gallons each. And they needed to be refilled! That’s a lot of ritualistic washing.
So Jesus takes these sacred, ritualistic symbols and made them into wine just so the wedding party, which, for all we can tell by the plain reading of these verses, was naturally winding down, could continue. And he didn’t just make twenty or thirty gallons of good wine. He made 120 to 180 gallons of wine. Let the party continue!
So it is in this light that I make the claim, that when Jesus told his followers, that when ever they eat or drank, to do that in remembrance of him; he was not talking about an activity that occurred once a month, or once a year or even once a week. He was taking about WHENEVER. Whenever you get together and you eat and drank – and like many cultures in that area, they eat and drank together when ever they got together – do this in remembrance of me.
Today, we have taken this common activity of eating and drinking and, true to our nature, undid everything Jesus tried to subvert. Just picture any ethnic culture. When you imagine them – the Italians for example – coming together to eat and drink, do you hold a picture of a somber and sacred event? No, its common, noisy and full of life. This is the atmosphere that we are to remember Jesus.
OK, by now I can hear you are telling me to turn to 1 Corinthians 11:27 so you can give me some correction:
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
“There you go” I hear you saying, “We are to eat and drink in a sober, somber, sacred manner that is worthy of the act of remembrance.” Except this argument misses the whole context of this verse.
Paul is dealing with an issue in this church’s gatherings. vs18 “when you come together, I hear that divisions exist among you”. This is the issue being addressed. He goes on: “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” – they were gathering to remember. Every time you do this… And they did it every time they got together.
And they didn’t ritualized this remembrance into a sacred act of a cup and a wafer, or a cracker and a thimble of grape juice. No! This was a meal. People were stuffing themselves and letting others go hungry. Some were also getting drunk. Now this is a time of communion that I could get into.
The problem Paul was dealing with was not the structure of their meetings, he was not saying don’t eat and drink, don’t have a meal, don’t have fun. He didn’t recommend that they make that glasses smaller and have one loaf and to be somber. What he was getting at is that this was to be a time of unity and fellowship. The emphasis should be on Jesus and the other people who make up His body and not on our own self gratification. They were to come together to have the Lord’s Supper together. And if you are going to do it in an unworthy manner – get drunk, stuff yourself while some one else is hungry – you are guilty.
“For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.” ver 29 The body is the community. We are the body (as Paul clearly draws out in his next section where he continues to emphasis this truth as it relates to our gathering and the spiritual gifts).
So often we have re-ritualized out faith. Jesus came and subverted our ritualistic tendencies, but we are quick to pick them back up. Also, by making the act of taking the Eucharist/ Lord’s Supper a time of personal reflection, we have taken the community out of Communion with God.
That’s how I see it any how.